Land of the Free, Home of the Brave – but it’s not my home.
Been a while since the last blog, I think I was ranting about my Brazilian VISA experience, which worked out thank goodness. I did go to Brazil for winter break and had a wonderful time with my best friend and her family, that is definitely something I will not forget any time soon. Back at UMass Amherst now and I have four-ish months left of my experience here and I’m starting to miss home, everything about home, my friends and family and the feeling that I really belong. As soon as I got back to UMass and class started again it was evident that this semester was going to be different from the last. I had close friends leave to continue their adventures and other friends let me down when I needed them. I had tried so hard to make this the best experience I could that I wanted America to be my home. But it’s not my home, it’s not the place where people love and care for me and help me through tough times, Australia is and I had forgotten that. Thankfully my sister is arriving for a visit later this week and I’m going to have two crazy busy weekends ahead of me, one in Boston and one in New York City. Then later in March my parents are arriving to visit me and have a little American experience of their own.
I don’t want to seem like I regret going on exchange, I don’t at all but I do have to admit I was a little bit too cocky about how I would cope over here. Bad shit happens everywhere, no matter who you are or where you are and exchange isn’t going to be all fun times and happiness, especially not for 9 months straight. So my best advice for pending and current exchange students is don’t forget where you are from, don’t get caught up in a swirl of new things and forget about home because eventually you have to go back home and it should feel good.
I’m going to end up sounding like someone’s dad here, but don’t forget that learning our limits is also part of learning process, and study abroad is a great place to see that. When you go away, you lose so many of the everyday supports that you’re comfortable with. Some you can replace, some you don’t miss, but some really hurt to be apart from. It’s interesting to look back and do a bit of an inventory of what you really missed and what you didn’t. It can help you really cut through the noise and see what you need in support for the future…
February 1, 2011 at 9:26 pm
I agree totally with Greg on this one, about what and how we learn. And it will be interesting to see, when you DO get home, how your own perceptions of yourself, your sojourn, your needs, capabilities etc will have changed – look back on this post in six months time and just see! That’s the great thing about a journal or a blog – maybe you would have forgotten in six months time how you were feeling right now – but here you have created a permanent record of this moment. Memories might fade or play tricks on us, but diaries are forever (this is Jan the historian speaking, by the way…)
Thanks for your thoughtful reflections
February 3, 2011 at 5:43 am