I have been meaning to sit down and write for some time now. Every time that I tell myself I will, however something else comes up. This is what I have learned after one of the most frustrating semesters of my life. Life will always pop up. You can’t expect there just to be time. The older you get, the more responsibilities tend to pop up, especially the more important, life-determining ones.
Tomorrow (or something like that) I’ll get on a flight again to go to my favorite place on earth for a well-deserved work vacation. The wait feels like forever, and it has been hell getting to this point. This semester I took all upper-level courses, worked, tried to keep up with my sorority, and applied for one of the most competitive scholarships in the country (still haven’t heard back) all while battling senioritis and missing Italy.
I knew that coming home would be hard. People told me that I’d have reverse culture shock, but I always expected it to go away. I never expected myself to actually feel like a piece of my soul was missing almost everyday. I’ve had a return ticket for December since the summer, but I never had a way to come back home to finish college. That idea frustrated the hell out of me. Mostly because money is always an issue when it comes to dreams, but also because school is always getting in the way.
When I think back on the past several months, the hardest part wasn’t my classes. It was dealing with not being over my heartache and separation from what I had to come to see as my future and a place where I could develop the woman that I should be (a cross between Olivia Pope and a badass teacher). I had to learn to shut off plans for the future to focus on the life I had to finish in Nashville. I had trouble with school this semester not because things were terribly hard but because I saw everything as pointless. College had become pointless because I had already figured out what I wanted to do an how to get there. School took the back burner to figuring out those dreams.
My Fulbright application became more important than doing homework and writing papers that counted towards grades. Emailing future employers and researching becoming an international educator filled in the hours when I wasn’t working or in classes. I dreamt about going back to Italy not to relive my study abroad semester but to start my future.
I think that’s the difference for me. I don’t want to go back to a life of jet-setting across the continent every weekend when I wasn’t in class and binge-drinking nights away with different boys with funny accents. That was fun for four months, and I learned a lot about myself in that time and in those situations. But I also got a small taste of what it’s like working for a company out to teach people about the world and fostering those abilities that help international relations. Coming home, I missed that along with being a place where I could constantly learn about the world. As much as I love being an American and the place that raised me, I learned that to become the woman that I want to be, I need to leave and go far, far away. And who knows how long I’ll actually live abroad, but I need to go back soon.
My constant separation anxiety and terrible senioritis isn’t reverse culture shock, it’s the fact that I was blessed with something that not a lot of seniors have when they see graduation on the horizon. Typically there’s a lot of anxiety about what comes next. For me, I know all to well where I’m going, or where I hope I’m going. The frustration is that I can’t be there already.
But I’ll get there. One day, I won’t need to worry about that return ticket.