I’m sitting in the Atlanta airport, waiting for my connecting flight home. As I’m waiting, my mind is wandering, and I’m thinking about all the amazing things I have done while studying abroad. To name a few: I saw the beautiful waterfalls in Iguazu, lived with indigenous people in the Andes mountains, and spent many nights out in the spectacular city of Buenos Aires. As all these wonderful memories replay in my mind, I am realizing just how long I have been gone. Six weeks did not seem long at all a few hours ago, but suddenly I feel like I have been gone for an eternity. I may have put a pause on my life, but that certainly doesn’t mean everyone else did. Life kept moving while I was away, and I feel estranged to my previous way of life.
Reintegration into my own life seems like such an odd – and maybe even scary – concept. There is certainly some anxiety about the pile of work that faces me when I get home, but it’s more than that. I feel almost like a stranger, like I’m headed toward something completely new. It’s such a unique feeling, a mix of excitement, longing, and a little bit of dread. Despite its uniqueness, I can’t help but feel like I have felt this before. Where do I know this feeling from? Almost as soon as I ask myself the question, I know the answer. It feels like I am about to study abroad… only it’s different. This time it’s not the place that’s new, it’s me. I’m coming back a new person. I have a whole new world of experiences under my belt, and those experiences are coming back with me.
I may have left Argentina behind when I hopped on a plane just ten short hours ago, but I certainly didn’t just dump my experiences and all that I have learned out the window. I don’t want to! Yes, this feeling of estrangement may be causing me some dread; it’s going to take some work to integrate my experience and knowledge back into my previous life, but this is also the opportunity I have worked so hard for. I have been longing to reconnect with the world in new and fantastic ways, and now I finally have my chance. Leaving Argentina wasn’t the end of an adventure; it was only the beginning, and I couldn’t be more excited.
Sam Nelson is a junior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City majoring in Psychology and Economics with a minor in Spanish. Sam will study abroad with the UMKC Spanish Program in Buenos Aires, Argentina during Summer of 2018 with hopes of improving his Spanish language skills. He is a member of Pride Alliance and several other student organizations. After Sam completes his degree at UMKC, he plans to attend graduate school and earn his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology.
Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.