This whole experience has been a gift, and it’s time to wrap it up. It’s been about a month since I’ve been home. For those of you still with me, I thank you for your readership. If nothing else this post should offer the broad strokes of my own experience readjusting to home.
There’s a chart they showed us before coming home which maps the range of emotions we should expect while assimilating back home. The bold black line spiked up in the initial phase depicting the satisfaction, the absolute elation, of the long awaited reunion with friends and family. In the next phase, the line takes a sudden nosedive, plummeting towards the bottom of the paper. In phase two we were warned that our friends and family don’t really care as much as we thought they would to hear about our encounters with border security, traveler’s diarrhea, or that one time we left our phone in a cab (or that other time our replacement phone was stolen). The chart suggests that in the final phase as we come to grips with a reality that falls short of our colorful expectations we’ll level out and resume the day-to-day which was so boring and in fact the thing that made us all want to leave the godforsaken hemisphere in the first place. I’m no statistic, so my own readjustment was not so dramatic.
It was dark when we landed. Sick from travel, my body ached and my sinuses were blocked and then gushed out with clear fluids. Blocked again, and then gushing, like someone was pulling a dam lever. My eyes were red and they burned as the first gusts of Cincinnati air licked their dehydrated hulls. I see my mom waving from the other side of the orange line and I scramble to make this moment match what I had been imagining for some time now. The week that was supposed to bring the excitement of phase one was decidedly dull due to a lack of Sudafed. Still, it was good to be home and I was looking forward to catching up with people if I could only remember who those people were.
In the first couple of weeks people contacted me wanting to get lunch and catch up. Not remembering how I left things four months ago I had to think, “Do I want to see this person?” “Do I even like this person?” Other questions, still unanswered, nagged at me. How is it that the radio is still playing the same songs? Is Pokémon Go still a thing? Can I still get a McMuffin for dinner? Yes, you can take the American out of America, but you can’t take America out of the American. I have yet to have a McMuffin for dinner (a groundbreaking development before I left). I’m also meaning to schedule time with my mom for a Bob Evan’s breakfast which we enjoyed on occasion before I left.
I will say that walking through the golden arches of freedom and again embracing the Bob Evans family values that we Midwesterners unwaveringly cling to has been comfortable. My bed welcomed me home with a warm hug on the cold night of my return. I have a TV in my room, Netflix, Amazon Prime, there’s food in the fridge, and my dog still sleeps at the foot of my bed. The conveniences and familiarity with the systems here in the U.S. have definitely helped to ease my transition.
I’m happy to be home.
Here are some pics of some of the people I’ll miss the most. Until we meet again guys!
BONUS!!! Here’s a video that my friend Jenny (above) took of our walk to class one day.
Sam Heister studied abroad in Accra, Ghana in Fall 2016. You can read about his time in Ghana on his blog, Hearts of Oak.