The end of my semester abroad flew by. Every night during my last week, I’d lie down in bed and just stare at the ceiling wondering where on earth the day went. I couldn’t wait to see all of my family and friends, but the idea of leaving such a beautiful place had created a great sense of panic within myself.
Before I knew it, my room was empty, my bags were stuffed, and I was on my way to Schiphol Airport for the last time. I couldn’t fully comprehend what was happening. My brain was used to going to the airport week after week, so I think my body was getting ready for just another weekend trip around Europe. As I waited in the airport, I kept thinking about what was happening, but my emotions were so conflicted. I was excited, nervous, sad, and happy. And in denial.
I got through security and waited for boarding to begin. I still didn’t feel like I was reacting the way I was supposed to. I was quiet and calm even though there were a million different emotions flowing through me. Once my boarding group was called, I stood in line feeling really strange. It was like my brain was so full that I just couldn’t think anymore.
When I walked into the tunnel thing that leads to the plane, that’s when I lost it. I still wasn’t forming coherent thoughts, but tears were forming rapidly. I was breathing fast and walking even faster, as if speeding up the process would make it less painful. I am proud to say that I didn’t let any tears fall, but I was a mess for bit.
Things are different now. I moved to another country and lived there for four months. I started a new life. Then, I came back home and everything was…well, the same. There were random things I didn’t remember, like what color a certain closet door in my house was, or the size and color of the church next to my house, or certain clothes that I had in my closet, or how to get to certain places. It was eerie in a way, walking into my room and seeing Christmas candy and my stocking still on my bed. It was like Christmas happened, I blinked, went to Leiden, blinked again, and I was home.
The first week and a half of being home was a blur. I was really busy and fighting jet lag (which was so rough). I was running all over the place reuniting with family and friends. Most of all, I was just trying to adjust. Being home didn’t feel bad, but it didn’t really feel good either. It felt weird. I spent an incredible four months doing all sorts of incredible things, and then I was expected to come home and just be normal. It didn’t feel like I was on an adventure anymore. I missed Europe already.
I’ve been home for two weeks now, and I’m feeling a little bit better. A couple days ago I was feeling kind of down and I thought, “Hey, maybe I’ll save some money and go on a little weekend trip.” Then, I remembered $70 could maybe, just maybe get me to Kansas City or Chicago. A month ago it got me to London and back. Realizations like that are still hitting me every day, but it’s getting easier to handle. Familiarity is nice, English is nice, Cardinals baseball is nice, and so are all of my wonderful family and friends. I’ll always miss Europe, and I do have to go back. But I’ll also never forget how much I missed all of the wonderful people in my life while I was gone. I always wished I could’ve brought everyone with me.
I think you can expect maybe one more post from this blog. It will be a post full of all of the advice I can give to future study abroad students. Thank you all so much for reading. It means the world.