Coming home, returning, was so sweet. As I stepped off the plane after nearly 12 hours of traveling I ran into the arms of my dad, who I hadn’t seen in over four months. I was excited to breathe the air of America, to use toilets that flushed efficiently, and to enjoy some chips and queso from an overpriced Tex-Mex restaurant. I remember thinking about how glad I was to be in the United States of America, which I discovered was pretty great after all. I never wanted this feeling to end.
Fast forward to a week later, I am sitting in an Air BnB condo with my family in the midst of a vacation, literally going through Spanish withdrawals. After several months as my lifeline and sole determiner of my grades, I no longer had anyone to speak Spanish to or with. I found myself muttering in Spanish when I was annoyed or saying sentences only to look around and realize that no one had heard or understand me. Even more shocking was my return to real life. Almost immediately after I stepped off the plane, I was confronted with all the things that I had so happily left behind – a job, homework from summer classes, paperwork and financial aid for the fall, and most pressingly, being a broke college student. The bubble of Latino culture and rainforest adventures that I was living in quickly bursted, leaving me free-falling through the air only to land on the prickles and thorns of responsibility. While air conditioning and macaroni and cheese had happily returned to my life, the pressures and fast-pace of American life did not. I had returned to my reality.
The transition has not been as easy as I thought it would be. When I was Costa Rica I was overwhelmed by Tico-time and an almost island ease in the way that I lived my life. Everything would come in due time. Life was about enjoying yourself and doing what you love. As I have transitioned back to the American rat-race, a life where I tend to fill my schedule with so many events I barely have time to breathe, I have struggled to find the perfect balance.
However, as time goes on, I have slowly begun to combine my Tico lessons with my American lifestyle. I am learning that it is okay to have free time and relax and to open my day up to breathing. I have learned that even when no one understands you, it’s okay to speak. I have learned to seek out people with a common knowledge of Spanish, so that we can share our knowledge and experiences and I can continue to grow. In the end, I got to return – return to reality, return to my family, and even return to my responsibilities. I also got to return with knowledge, return wiser, and return with the experiences of the lifetime. Most importantly, I return ready to start a new adventure.
It’s good to be back.