Well it's been over 2 whole months since I packed up a year's worth of clothes, pictures, and memories and made the 15 hour journey back to America. Switzerland did me well and Europe taught me more things than a classroom ever could. It was, in a single, universal phrase - life changing.
And now here I am - back in the little Southern California bubble where it all began. It's weird to be back as I have this solid, achy feeling that while I was away, nothing but everything changed. And yeah, that may sound bizarre but it's true. What was once so familiar, still is, but holds much different meaning. It's like the first time you come home from college freshman year - but somehow graver. The differences are more abundant, yes harder to put your finger on - yet there they are, changing every little part of you as you struggle to make sense of what's going on.
Going abroad was like taking off the training wheels for the first time and hoping to God you didn't fall down. It was like running a marathon toward a finish you weren't really too sure looked like. It was crazy and chaotic and exhausting and amazing. It was the definition of everything you could never put into words.
And now, here I am. Back in America. Back in that little town that once felt so big. And I'm not too sure what I'm doing. Spending this past year in Europe showed me who I am and taught me who I'm not (through much trial and error, I may add). It showed me that as independent as I once thought I was, I wasn't independent enough. I wasn't an adult by any means and I continued to figure out how little I really knew about the world and myself as the semesters progressed. I must say second semester was a lot harder than first. Much of the excitement from first semester fizzled out by the time we returned in January and suddenly living in Switzerland and traveling was just simply how life was. The zest that every weekend in a new country once held strangely diminished and I wondered at times what the hell I was even doing. As incredible as it was, sometimes it just wasn't easy.
No one talks about the times you get so homesick you just sit down by the lake alone and try to forget about the distance between you and your family. Or the sleeping in airports in order to make an early morning flight. Or being less than a mile away from a terrorist attack when you and your friends try to have a girls weekend in Paris. Or any of the things that didn't quite make it to Instagram because they just quite simply didn't glamorize the abroad experience enough to post.
Don't get me wrong - studying abroad was one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had and I feel so blessed to have been given such an opportunity. I realize that it was in the trials and hardships that I grew the most. The imperfections that made us cry and broke us down became the most perfect parts. Because they were the parts we felt the most. They were the parts that taught us the things we didn't yet know and what pushed us to grow into the people we are now.
Coming home has been nothing short of a challenge and I consistently find myself longing for those perfectly imperfect adventures and all the small little things that I never thought I'd miss.