For pretty much everyone that goes abroad, you eventually come home. While California is certainly not abroad, this is the first time we’ve been home in 6 months. In fact, this is the longest both Hubby and I have ever been away from Atlanta.
When we prepare students to study abroad we tell them there are 4 Hs of culture adjustment – honeymoon, hostility, humor, and home. From experience I can say the 4 Hs applied to my transition to San Diego. At this point a year ago, I had been in San Diego for a week, was unemployed, lonely, and hating the 3 hour time zone difference and the small parking spots. I definitely was hostile. But today, I felt the duality of the home stage. I was coming home but felt I was leaving home all at the same time. It was bitter-sweet.
I never really thought much about coming home today. I definitely didn’t think about reverse culture shock, so it snuck up on me. Today as we walked into my in-laws home we were immediately surrounded by 60 members of my husband’s family to celebrate his grandmother’s birthday. I was overwhelmed by a plethora of fried southern food, deep southern accents, and the number one question: How was California? I found myself reverting back to the same routine from when I studied abroad where I repeated the same statement over and over. I probably said, “California was great” about 37 times today.
What is unfortunately is that California was more than great. It was a place where I grew both professionally and personally. It’s where I had the best of jobs as a study abroad advisor to fantastic students. It’s where I met 4 incredible women who became very close friends. It’s where I started this blog. Although my stent in California was shorter than I wanted it to be, my time there was transformational.
I always tell my students that it will take some time to put into words what studying abroad really meant to them. I guess that is where I am right now. Currently, I know that this past year has been life-changing, but I’m not quite sure how to completely explain that. Hopefully I’ll get there soon.