When I first landed in the US I was instantly greeted with familiarity. I loved being in Scotland but it’s just something about being in your own country that makes you feel more secure. After my connecting flight I finally landed in New Orleans airport. I felt instantly at home and was so excited to see my family. My family had made me one of those cheesy welcome home signs, but I was so happy to see them to be embarrassed. Once out of the airport we went to dinner downtown and I was hit with jazz music, people milling the streets and all sorts of shenanigans that go on in New Orleans. It was so refreshing not only to be back with family but to be in a comfortable setting. At dinner amongst the catching up chatter I couldn’t help but notice how different everything was compared to Scotland. The dining experience was more formal and of course the food and flavors were more enhanced in the US. Once I got home and I had handed out souvenirs I had gotten everyone I was left alone to unpack and get settled in. While unpacking I couldn’t help but think about all the memories I had made in Scotland. Certain items or clothes made me think of certain trips or outings we had made as a group. All of these experiences piled up and I began to look around my room and realize that I wasn’t exactly the same person anymore. Not that I had changed drastically, but I had lived in a different country and experienced their culture, history and had become accustomed to their normalcies. That alone is bound to change someone in how they view the world and themselves in this world.
Just from exploring around another country for only a month has heightened my awareness of how little of the world I know. Ever since I was little, I have been adventurous and wanted to explore. This experience has intensified that feeling in me even more. I want to see as much and live in as much as the world as I possibly can. While in college I have entertained the idea of possibly traveling for work. From my time in Scotland I have an even stronger urge to live abroad working for a chemical engineering company some day in the future.
A culture changes to me coming back from Scotland is the roads and cars. In most European countries the driver’s side of a car is opposite as well as which side of road they drive on. When I first got to Scotland this was something I had to normalize and when I came back home, I had to unlearn it. It was also a switch but comforting to hear the southern accents of home rather than the Scottish accent I had been hearing for the past month. The food of course was different as where I’m from there is a lot of Cajun spice and just spice in general incorporated in our food. The Scottish fare while tasty, was a bit bland. As for culture shock, I did not go through it. I did not have hostility at being back home, instead it was more of a feeling of familiarity for me and comfort. For me I realized I was back in the US and I couldn’t change it. I of course miss Scotland and look back on my time there fondly but upon returning I didn’t go through a honeymoon, hostility, humor or home stages of culture shock. The same goes for when I arrived in Scotland, I just simply accepted the fact that I was there and had to adapt to my changed environment.
For future students going abroad I guarantee you that you do not need all the clothes you packed. You know you’re going to buy souvenir clothing from your host country so just don’t. I had a huge problem with that. So much so that on the way to Scotland I almost went over weight limit. This of course meant on the way back I was going to be over limit to account souvenirs I would undoubtedly bring back. For me I was so over the weight limit that I had to buy another suitcase. This was not only costly but frazzling as you must halt the process of checking into your flight to go transfer items into a new suitcase. Other than that, try to not fight the circumstances you find yourself in although they may be strange and foreign. Try, see and do as many things as you can. Even if you might be scared to taste a new dish or hike a hill, I promise it’ll be worth it. Or if anything it will be an experience you will never forget.