Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Reentry Soliloquy

Here's the dealio. I'm doing a little semester project in my lovely Interpersonal Communication course, and I picked Reentry from Study Abroad.

Surprised? No you're not.

Truth Zone:
I still have dreams about walked around Rome.
I have yet to find a pasta dish that meets my standards.
I am perpetually disappointed in wine.
I miss the ability to be aloof when going for a walk, and smiling at people when I pass feels like a mask that doesn't quite fit.

These are all things that have to do with my time two years ago in Italy.
(Dear God has it been that long?)

So for those of you reading this who have studied abroad, or spent any time in a totally different culture than the one you call "home," know this: it's normal to have those feelings of displacement. Like you don't quite belong where you are, and you just want to combine pieces of both of your experienced cultures because they have become you. It's normal to want to share those experiences and feel isolated when people don't quite get it. There's plenty of research to back you up, and no, it does not go away.

Truth is you've been changed by your experiences and it's not always going to be easy for you to change your surroundings to match. I encourage you to find someone who has been "there" (and by there I don't mean to the place you studied, but experiencing somewhere else) and talk about it. If you can't find anyone, write about it. There are others like you out there feeling the same stuff.

For those of you who don't quite identify with this topic, I encourage you to listen to those who are dealing with this. Let them talk to you, it's not about you or how they should or should not meet your expectations of discussion. They don't really want to talk about how great the food was (although it's often interesting), or if they knew the language. They remember the little things like, what the streets look like when it rains, or the woman who always leaned against the wall of that church, or the sound of police sirens. They are the things that the tourists don't remember, or don't care to, and the things the study abroad kid holds on to with everything they have.

Just a thought for your Wednesday.

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