Wednesday, February 20, 2013

A New Day

It's a new semester, and a new day.  I can finally say that I'm past my reverse culture shock battle.  It was drawn to my attention today that my previous post gained some attention.  That really made me stop and reevaluate where I am right now in my life.  I couldn't leave things where my last post left off.

Yes, culture shock is very difficult.  Yes, studying abroad is frightening.  Yes, submitting all the forms makes it seem impossible.

But was it the best decision and experience of my life? Yes, and I wouldn't trade it for anything.

I don't want to seem bitter or... well, anything else negative.  This semester has been a complete change from last semester.  It feels like I finally can be myself again.  Sometimes I feel like others can see it too.  I feel like I actually have healthy relationships supporting my life right now, my health has improved, and I have been more optimistic.  I'm also exploring new feelings of trust in the good of people.

I know some of the people closest to me in my life have helped me reach this point, but I feel like my study abroad has helped too.  Even though coming back was a struggle and painful even, it's like it was growing pains.  I went through extensive growth and the pain was fitting too that.  I think even just experiences aside, I learned a lot from the people of Scotland.  They were a model of who I wanted to be.  Everyone I met was open, welcoming, hardworking, smiling and optimistic, personable, and reserved.  You know how sometimes certain memories just stick out in your mind, like snapshots if you will?  Well when I think of the people of Scotland, my mind flickers through snapshots of the lovely people I met and their warm smiles.  I wonder if they know that they each had an impact on me, that they each set examples for who and how I want to be.  I still can't wait to go back to my new found home.  But I'm also doing great things here.  I'll leave you with this picture of Loch Garry.  For me it seems fitting to inspire hope for the new day to come.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Still a Battle

     So it's been a long time since I've posted anything.  To be honest, I thought I was done.  I thought I had said all there was to say about my trip.  However, there still is more that needs to be said.  The cultural adjustment back to the United States has been excruciatingly hard this semester.  I think a lot of it is because I felt so at home in Scotland.  It felt more like home than home to me.  I was the most relaxed there than I have ever been in my life.  I met amazing people, had amazing experiences.  And now I'm back here.  This small town where I feel like I don't fit in.  Perhaps this is part of reverse culture shock, but it hasn't gone away.  It's in fact gotten worse.  I don't even feel like I fit in with this college anymore.  I have to go back.  Not just want to, but really have to.  I'm not happy here.  This semester has been such a struggle.  In addition, I haven't gotten the support I need.  And maybe it's because I don't know how to ask for it.
     Take my sorority sisters for example.  I can go with a group of them out, whether it's shopping or hanging a banner on campus.  But yet, I don't say a single word, and none of them even notice that I'm not included.  Lately it feels like they're just tearing me down.  Whether it's criticizing my beliefs, making comments about how I look, not helping me when I need it, or even just ignoring me, it's taken a toll on me.  And since I live in the house, it's very hard to escape it.  Perhaps they don't mean to be malicious but they have no idea how much I'm battling.
     That combined with the cultural dissonance has made each day a struggle.  It feels so lonely, and is definitely painful.  It's taken a physical toll on me this semester too, I've been frequently ill.  Some support from my friends would be nice, but so far the only things I have gotten from them have been destructive.  The best I can do right now is to drown myself in my work to get through this semester, and dream about the day I get to go back to my discovered home.