Returning home from England was a rude awakening. I left a country I grew to love, friends, a boyfriend, and Brighton. The return flight home was numbing. I hated America, I hated my hometown, and I hated to admit that the orientation leaders were right about reverse culture shock. I remember lying in bed loathing the view out my bedroom window.
I questioned applying to another university abroad. I purposefully threw myself back into life at home. Two days after my arrival, I had summer school and a job. I knew this: I had two years of university left, I wanted to graduate from Loyola University, and wait…I didn’t know anything! I felt lost in a whirlwind of confusion.
Summer school started along with work. I hated it, but I focused on avoiding thoughts all together. I powered through. Before I knew it, I was back in the city figuring out who I was and what all this change meant for me. I met great people who motivated me to live a more sustainable life, and I decided to pursue a path beneficial to others and myself.
I am glad I stuck with the USA and Chicago. My boyfriend of three years arrived and we began a life together. His arrival allowed me to explore Chicago, my focus no longer on getting through the next semester to hop over the Atlantic. The UK would always be in my mind, but now I understood that I could make a life anywhere.
What I realized from my travels and return home, is that all places can be amazing. People are strangely similar around the world. There are differences setting us apart, but human nature is extremely similar. I’m aware that my struggle made me stronger. Individuals need change to grow and to grasp life’s full potential. This is why pursuing change, although difficult or painful, is good. It makes us think. It’s ok to be unsure of what we want. This uncertainty allows us to search out our desires. We can then recognize the wrong path or a long lost dream.
I came back with life long friends from all over the world. I also came back with experiences and growth unachievable in the comfort of my home city.
I love Chicago. It scares me how much I love it sometimes. This love makes me think that soon I should depart to explore some other part of the world. I am sure I will. I think about it weekly, if not daily. I dream of places and things I will do because it allows me to set goals.
So my advice is to get out there! Travel! There is discomfort and uncertainty in all choices, but the reward is great. Life will bring struggles, but you build the tools to move past the hard times by pushing yourself.
Enjoy your time abroad and also give time to readjust to life at home. All change is slow, so don’t be too hard on yourself.
Life is full of many possibilities, and it’s never to late to experience what the world has to offer.
Please share your life lessons achieved through travel!