When Home is the Same But You Aren’t

For the last semester, I’ve been studying abroad through USAC in Bengaluru, India. I’ve begun thinking about going back home at the end of all this.

When I first arrived in India, I felt like I would be here forever. My time felt infinite, going home a distant thought that may or may not actually happen at some point in time.

Now, it’s begun to dawn on me that I will go back home, and when I do, things will be widely the same as how I left them. I’ll be very different from the Kailyn that left Kansas a couple months ago, but the Kansas I’ll return to will be virtually unchanged.

This isn’t the first time I will have experienced this, and it surely won’t be the last. Still, it’s an odd concept to grasp. How can I live such a wildly different life for almost half a year and return back to exactly the life I had before?!

My good friend Mary Alice and I have had a lot of conversations about this, and she always says it’s not a bad thing to return to our old ways of life. One thing about being a traveler is that we are able to adapt to our current environment or way of life- whether that’s in India, Iowa, Guatemala, or South Africa, in Mary Alice’s case. But, just because we adapt, or re-acclimate, to this old way of life, it doesn’t mean we haven’t changed. It doesn’t mean we ignore the growth we have undergone while in this new place.

USAC students attend local soccer game during study abroad in Bengaluru, India
Me and Mary Alice at a local soccer game

Instead, it will be a journey of re-acclimating into the environment in which we will return, while also proudly acknowledging and upholding the personal changes we’ve made. This will merely be a part of the re-acclimation process- finding the things from our old lives that still work for us, and actively changing those that don’t.

Although this can be really difficult, it’s an important way to respect and value yourself. Simply falling into old habits, even though they no longer suit you, would be to cheat yourself of the challenges and changes you underwent while traveling. Beyond this, it is a way to ensure your unhappiness.

If you are not living an honest, bold, and unapologetic life that is true to you, you are stifling your own happiness. So, although it may seem easier at first to simply fall into old habits upon returning home, and ignore the changes you’ve undergone, this will only cause you pain in the long run.

So, this is my goal for when I return home, even though it’s still a ways away! I will continue growing and changing here in India, and when I return home, I will make a conscious effort to sustain these changes, even if it is difficult at times. I will live an honest life, and proudly be a different Kailyn than what I was before.

Kailyn Robert is a USAC Bengaluru alumna and attends Morningside College. You can read more about her time in India on her blog, I’m Not in Kansas (Or Iowa) Anymore.