A few days ago I finally started to look for tickets back home to Seattle. I was surprised at how nervous it made me.
I've gotten used to my life here: I know how the public transportation system works, I have my favorite places to run/wander, I finally have something of a system when it comes to planning lessons, I feel completely normal kissing strangers on the cheek, I have my favorite brand of cereal, I've even managed to find a group of people I hang out with, etc. It'll be weird going back after all the work I did to adjust.
But it's more than that. In fact, giving up French crackers and running trails are the least of my worries. When I chose to do this program I had two big reasons: I wanted to travel and I wanted to give myself time to seriously reflect on what I want to pursue in life after college. I've been here for nearly four months and I'm ashamed to admit I haven't really made much progress in that latter area. I've had many nights of lost sleep because of this, and they seem to be getting more frequent as I think more about going home. I put my head on my pillow and try to sleep, but my brain refuses to shut off, so I relent and search for jobs, I browse random graduate programs, I wonder if I should teach English somewhere else...
I'm scared I'll go back and stop progressing. I'm going to be honest, my life of 20-hour work weeks and frequent two-week breaks is pretty lax, and by normal standards my life is pretty stationary. But progress here isn't the same as progress back home. Every time I have a remotely fluent conversation with somebody I feel like I've had a small success, when I learn new words and plug them into a sentence, that's success, when I manage to navigate French bureaucracy, well...for that I deserve a medal. You can't really help but progress when you're in a different country, whether you take notice of it or not.
I really really like being in situations where "success" is very well defined. Here it's getting over the language barrier and learning to effectively plan lessons, in college it was getting good grades and internships, in high school it was getting into college, when I did sports it was about winning... What I'm realizing is that one of the hardest things about "real life" is that you really have to define success yourself, whether that means doing good in the world, making money, traveling, etc.
And that, to a large extent, is why I am nervous to go home, because being here creates the sort of safety bubble I had in college. And the moment I get off that plane the bubble bursts.
At the same time there's always a bit of...disappointment, I would call it, upon returning somewhere you've been missing for a while. Somehow that thing that you couldn't wait to eat doesn't quite taste the way you had been imagining it for months.
All that being said, lately I have been finding myself thinking about the things I miss from home. The coffee, the coffee made by that beautiful machine that stands in my kitchen. Almond milk. It exists here but it tastes like water, I guess there aren't enough hippies here to create a large enough demand for the good stuff. My dog. Lounging around my house like a hobo without judgement. Costco and Trader Joes. Stores being open on Sunday. Good crackers.
So I'm a bit torn, as you can see.