Wow it has been ridiculously long since my last post. Not for lack of excitement, that's for sure. Where to begin...
SE Asia was amazing (and so was my travel buddy, Charlene!). It completely reaffirmed my addiction to travel and just made me thirsty for more. I got back home in May and had a few days in Chicago with Renee before finally landing in San Antonio after almost 2 and a half years.
Fast forward to now. I've been home 3 months and can say that I am pretty much re-acclimated to living in America. It's definitely been a process but I didn't have as hard of a time as I originally anticipated. To be completely honest, I'm struggling more now where I currently find myself career-wise than I was with the initial reverse culture shock and transition to living in America. But more on that later.
The following are some of the most significant reflections taken from my journal in terms of moving back home:
The most obvious difference and adjustment, and easiest to dramatize, is without a doubt technology. IPhones were everywhere! And I didn't even know what a "Droid" was or what swipe meant for a long time. It's never been easier to stay in touch with people. I was able to essentially skype with my nephew in the palm of my hand. Insane. Some aspects are a bit extravagant and unnecessary, true, but still very cool. And if I can self-teach how to use an iPhone anyone can.
Funny confession: the first shower I took at home I turned off the water while I lathered my hair and body then turned it back on to rinse. I didn't even think twice about it until I was finished.
I love love LOVE the transitions between relationships in Uganda and America. I can talk about this forever. I had a solid core group of truly phenomenal friends that became family in Uganda. Continuing and strengthening these relationships in America has been wonderful. We now have different things going on as we establish our lives here and we have so much more to talk about! I've also been fortunate to get to know a few volunteers' families and I can't even begin to explain how great it is to have the opportunity to see where people come from. There wasn't a doubt in my mind these connections and relationships would continue in America but I am so happy they have gotten even deeper. To all my PC fam, I love each and every one of you guys! And I continue to enjoy the group texts and picture texts and emails. You are a very unique and amazing group of people and I will forever be grateful to have been a part of the Feb. 2010 training group.
I have finally started to reach the point where I am able to let go of the negativity while holding on to everything that is good about Uganda and my experience there. I will admit I find myself still jaded at times, but definitely not anywhere near the amount I was when I first got back. I'm able to blend my life in Uganda and who I was there with who I am here and thread the two experiences into one. I've been able to redefine who I am with all the unique experiences I had in a way that still fits who I was before I left. And I've also been tremendously blessed to have supportive friends and family who are accepting of who I am. That has been the best and easiest part of my transition home.
Without two of the most wonderful people I know (Mar and Ang) reminding me of the things that are and aren't normal or socially appropriate I'm not sure that my readjustment would have gone as smoothly. Having teenage sisters in this case has been clutch. It was easy to get out of the house when I had sisters who didn't mind spending 20 minutes with me in the shampoo aisle while I smelled just about every bottle and gawked at the absurd price of conditioner. Love you girls!
I'm now up in Austin, living by myself, and I have my own PreK classroom at the school I was student teaching at 3 years ago. I can't help feeling a little anxious at the fact that I am "locked" in for the next year or two and it makes my urge to run away and go somewhere new and exciting that much stronger. I still miss certain parts of Uganda, mainly the simplicity and sense of community, and I think part of me always will. I miss being immersed in a new culture and more so being accepted as part of that culture. I don't like the materialism that is evident everywhere you look in America. I'm struggling with how close-minded some people are.
It continues to be a process and I still sometimes feel like I'm on vacation waiting to go back to Uganda. I know without a doubt that I will have another international experience. I don't know when and I have some ideas as to where, but it is going to happen. I love the vagabond lifestyle way too much to give it up now. The world is a big and exciting place full of potential and opportunity. After Africa, I can truly do anything. My favorite quote right now is from Into the Wild, "Nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future."
I haven't decided if I want to keep up with a blog now that I'm back home so it may be a while before another post, if one at all. Thoughts? I've said it a million times but stand by it: this experience wouldn't have been nearly as successful without the support and encouragement of each and every one of you. You guys are amazing and you have no idea how many times I pulled from your reassuring emails and letters to find my own strength. Thanks you for being a part of the most unique two years of my life so far; thank you for being a part of the best decision I've ever made.