Hello, everyone! Sorry it’s taken me so long to post. There’s really no good reason for it, except I haven’t been on the computer much–just enough to check that my AUBGers all made it home safely. All of my flights went smoothly and I’ve been at home for a week.
It took almost a week to adjust to this time zone. I was bound and determined to sleep in last Saturday and Sunday morning–after all, if there’s one time in my life I’m allowed to sleep ages and no one can say anything, it’s when I’m jetlagged!–but found that I really couldn’t sleep past 7 in the morning. I was surprised because when I came back from the UK this summer, I bounced back immediately. But I guess that that was only five hours instead of seven, and one month instead of four. I’ve finally adjusted, but I’m still trying to wake up pretty early because I forgot how much I like mornings. Not just in Bulgaria, but after two and a half years of college in general.
Coming back into the United States was weird. Really weird. I knew it would be, but because I’d never done this sort of thing before (haha) there was no way to predict why it would feel that way. Dollars still feel strange in my hands after 4 months of the shorter (and prettier) leva bills–like they’re play money. It’s funny because that’s exactly how I felt with leva at first. Okay, and I also got sticker shock when I bought the much-anticipated Five Guys burger, fries, and soft drink (FOUNTAIN DRINK! WITH FREE REFILLS!) for ten dollars and realized how much money I’d just spent after four months in a country where the cost of living was lower. After a moment of silence for the lack of a good exchange rate, I enjoyed my first meal back in Amurrica and called my parents. It was my mom’s birthday and we chatted while I waited on my last flight home.
I got the weirdest sense of deja vu on the plane from D.C. to Charleston. I felt like I was still on the plane leaving in August, where the semester abroad was stretching ahead of me in an unfamiliar place, full of adventure. But I was going towards home, not away from it, and I honestly felt for a few moments like the last four months weren’t even real. As excited as I was to see my parents, that’s the one time I was pretty sad. I kept seeing people’s faces in the D.C. airport or hearing voices (thankfully in English, though I was already missing Bulgarian) and thinking it was someone from AUBG. While–just to emphasize–I was still so excited to be home, I had to accept that I’d had my four months of adventure. The language, the classes, the traveling, the people; they were all gone, and it is a time in my life I will never be able to go back to. That book is closed. I can and will see some of my friends again, but not all of them and not all together. I hopefully will go back to Bulgaria, but probably not to living there. It’s hard. And as I said a few times in this blog, I liked who this experience was making me and I didn’t want to lose that. I was afraid I would. If I’m being honest, I’m still a little afraid of that. I learned a lot about confidence, spontaneity, patience, enjoying life, and love in Bulgaria. I want to keep this experience with me even more than my mosaic lamp from Istanbul or glass mask from Rome.
But when we touched down on the Charleston runway and I got to the waiting area and saw my parents, I forgot all of that. They had flowers, Spring Hill Bakery cookies (!) and one of those “Welcome Home” balloons. And lots of hugs and smiles. I couldn’t ask for a more supportive or loving family. We spent the weekend together; I got to see lots of my other family members as well, and hey, I watched some football! This week I’ve been a bit of a couch potato. It’s been nice. Home is good.
I have had some minor things that you could consider culture shock, I suppose. When I walked out of the airport, I was struck by how shiny all the cars were. (Haha.) Driving again was seriously odd for a little while. And the pace of life here is a lot more rushed than it is in Bulgaria. When my parents were taking me out to a welcome-home dinner at Southridge (for those non-Charlestonians out there, it’s a bustling shopping area), I actually felt claustrophobic and panicky with all the cars (I forgot how crazy it is to try and go to Southridge anytime between Dec. 1-25). Then we ended up needing to choose another restaurant because there was a 2-hour wait at the one I originally picked. I had to make a quick decision because we were still in the car and moving, and I completely froze. There were so many to choose from. It’s taken me a little while to adjust from the Bulgarian “it’ll happen when it happens” to the American “it’s happening now and you’d better get on board.” But my parents have been right here all along.
It’s been a good week. I spent the night with one of my best friends, Jenna; we’ve been best friends since we were 4, and we had lots to catch up on, talking for 5 hours. My sister came home from Marshall and it’s great to be able to annoy her in person again. I got my room assignment at Marshall next semester and it’s, almost creepily, the exact room I would’ve chosen if I could have. So that’s perfect. It’s almost Christmastime, when I can give everyone the souvenirs I bought them during my adventures, eat good food, watch football, and be with people I love.
And yesterday, I went to see The Hobbit again with Katie. It had no Bulgarian subtitles (I miss speaking and listening to and reading and writing Bulgarian…) and it was much more expensive. But I loved watching it with her, and coming home to have dinner with my family. It’s just appropriate, I think, that the second part of The Hobbit’s title–the part you don’t hear said as much, but it’s there–is There and Back Again.
I’ve been there, and I’m back again with plenty of tales, souvenirs, pictures, and overall amazing memories. This is my last blog post, and I want to thank everybody who’s kept up with me over the last four months. I have almost 750 views, and that’s far more than I had expected when I began writing in August.
Being home is bittersweet, though more on the sweet side. I’m glad of that, because it shows the last four months meant something. Just like I’m always sad to turn the last page of a good book, I’m sad to turn this one in my life. But I’m excited to see where the next year and a half of college take me, and the adventures I can have and memories I can make here.
Весела Коледа (Merry Christmas!),