In my short 23 years, I’ve spent a decent amount of time abroad. There was the summer I spent in Ecuador at 15, the five, choripán-filled months studying in Argentina, the three blissful summers in college I spent au pairing in France, the many trips down to Chile to see my then-boyfriend. But no stay abroad was as long as my recent year-long stay in France. So naturally, I figured that coming home to the states would be different this time.
But I have a confession- it’s not weird being home. Like not weird at all. Maybe it’s because both France and the states feel like home at this point, or maybe it’s because I’m used to the cross-continent shuffle that has become my life.
But being home just feels like… well, being home. It’s the same leafy, oak-lined streets, the welcome-home meal of hummus with lamb tips, the lazy weeks spent reading in lounge chairs and taking sunset cruises at my lake-house. In short, coming home hasn’t been a shock. I slipped right back into my old life so easily it was almost as if I had never left. My time in Paris almost feels like a dream, a surreal, summery haze of sipping cider on the Seine and walking home past castles and linden trees.
Is there anything better than sleeping in your own bed after a year away from home?
But there are a few differences this time, particularly in regard to my palate. I find that most food now tastes flavorless, but yet is too salty or two sweet. Even my favorite salsa now tastes way too sugary, and it makes me wonder about how much sugar is in even savory foods in the United States. After tasting a Ghiradelli brownie, a sweet treat I used to love, I found it cloyingly sugary. I wondered to myself, “Did I really used to like these?”
I’m also having trouble relaxing- after months of near-constant stimulation and staying up until seven a.m. on weekends, I’m struggling to enjoy my summer by the lake like I usually do. (Which is a shame because it is amazing here!) I also find many of my old bad habits are slowly come back- surfing the web idly on my phone or sneaking spoonfuls of peanut butter in the pantry. Even though I should be thrilled to be home, some days I feel listless and unhappy.
But despite a few setbacks, I’m trying to enjoy this time with my family and friends because it will be gone too soon. In two weeks I make my way to L.A., and a week after that I fly to a region I’ve been dreaming about for years- Asia.
What has surprised you about coming home after a long time away?
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