So one month after coming home from my Junior Term Abroad in France…
On the outside, nothing’s changed. I’m still the same old quirky, weird girl whose messy hair changes involuntarily (it’s quite blonde and ombré again despite no efforts to alter it) with a surprisingly strong personality and superhuman (not really) strength. When I came home, my room was in the same state as it was when I left it. My cherished blue lava lamp, my cute animal stuffed toys and my ever-growing, unused pile of art materials were right where I left them. I was reunited with my family, friends and boyfriend who made it seem like I never left because we picked up right where we left off. I still like the same things, listen to the same music and take lots (and lots) of photographs. It was like my life was on pause while I was away and when I came back, it was back to regular programming.
But on the inside, everything’s different. I feel like I’m a different person - although not entirely - and that the “new” me is someone I’m happy I’ve become. Being away made me realize so many things and I’ve since then aimed to become better. My newfound confidence has pushed me to aim higher and achieve more of my goals in life. I’m no longer afraid to do things on my own and I’ve learned to really, truly believe in myself. My JTA experience has left me constantly searching for new adventures, dreaming of returning to my favorite cities and feeling nostalgic for the past 5 months I spent abroad but the fresh thirst for living my life to the fullest and the nonstop pursuit for more out of everything are things I’ll forever keep with me. I’m forever grateful for being given the opportunity to study abroad, travel the world and learn about different cultures at 20 years old.
Reverting back to reality has been such a struggle. I find myself yearning for my life in Rennes, France and at the same time finding ways to keep things interesting and fun back here. Whenever people welcome me back and ask me how JTA was, I never know what to say. I can’t seem to tell my stories without thinking that this person might just think I’m boasting, that they’re just curious and don’t actually care or that they just won’t get it…because they weren’t there. All I can (and do) say is, “It was amazing! It was great!” because I can never seem to articulate my thoughts or feelings about what I believe was the best 5 months of my life.
But I do find comfort in knowing that somewhere in the future, I’ll have another shot at living away from home, seeing more of the world, backpacking to places I’ve only dreamed of and making new memories, amazing friends and discovering lifelong lessons. There’s still so much I’ve yet to see. For now, I’ll plan my own little trips around the Philippines. My home that I’ve missed dearly.