We spend so much time blogging about our experiences while abroad- the food, the people, and the destinations. But what about when you return home? What happens when you are done teaching abroad in Thailand? When you say goodbye to your host family you worked as an au pair for? When your internship in Ireland is complete?
Our guest blogger extraordinaire, Shanny Neuman, who participated in GeoVisions' Walk and Talk Program in Italy earlier this year, writes about the challenges of returning home and maintaining the new insight she learned while working abroad. Here's Shanny:
Our Way Back
Cultural shock or amazement is not always about what you discover on your journey. You also find it when you arrive back home.
Usually, we live either in the past or in the future. It is rare to actually live in full awareness in the present. When it comes to traveling, usually we think about what we are leaving behind and what this journey may have in store for us.
We hardly look into the future for when that journey is over. In my case, that was being an au pair and tutor in Italy for two months. We are enjoying so much of the experience that we don't even set our mind to the future.
Carpe diem! Live the day as it comes in full presence.
But everything comes to an end for better or for worse. Eventually, we need to get back to where we came from or keep going through this path.
In every trip I've made, I find it hard to detach, not precisely because of leaving the place I was for that amount of time, but because of the fear of coming back and losing everything I've acquired and the changes I've experienced during this time.
We live inside this bubble, whether we want it or not, or realize it or not. It's full of conditions, rules, habits, codes, protocols. We don't know how or why we follow them. But but they're there, guiding our everyday lives.
Sometimes we need to go places very far away, like Russia, South Korea or Malta, to really get out of that bubble and try to leave it all behind. As the separation from the known starts, we immerse ourselves in this world where we don't have anything or anyone to relate to, where the only new element is us.
Even when we leave that bubble, we're bringing with us a part of that code written on us. But it's amazing to realize that code is useless in that new place. We need to generate a new one. And since there's nothing or no one known there, we create the rules we want.
That's what freedom feels like: a white canvas, a blank page, an open, an infinite horizon, a vast sky and a world of possibilities.
Something we create just for us, where the only resource we have is that new perception of the world and us. That's all we really need: to dig deeper in our soul to find everything that's useful to create that code, a code that feels known to us, comforting, easy, fun and happy.
It's that openness that allows us to expand, to reach out our full capacity and conquer it. Only when facing ourselves and all that comes with it we can really see through us, without that fuss created by others that might not even fit us.
The real challenge, in my experience, has been coming back from it. Try to fit that stretched version of me to that so known and limited bubble, where it might feel that all that I've expanded doesn't fit there. How can I bring this brand new perspective of life somewhere so quotidian and monotonous?
Despite everything that happens to us we remain being ourselves, but in a more potentiated way.
We must generate a new us inside that known bubble and make it work to find balance between that diurnal life and our new self.ust never forget what we've learned while abroad, and never let that true self get sucked or be changed by those conditions and rules others make.
About Shanny: For two months, Shanny lived with a family in Italy and was a part time au pair, and part time tutor with the Walk and Talk program through GeoVisions. She lives in Mexico and recently graduated with a degree in tourism industry. Check out her adventures on Instagram.