Cole Taylor has been an official CAPA blogger for spring 2016, sharing their story in weekly posts on CAPA World. A journalism and media writing major at Lasell College, they have been studying abroad in Dublin this semester.
This is Cole's last post as a CAPA blogger, reflecting on their experience and being home. Thanks so much for sharing your journey with us this semester, Cole. We wish you all the best!
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When the pilot told us we were flying over the coast of Maine preparing to land in Boston in less than 45 minutes, I could not help but smile—finally, I was almost home. The emotions began to set in and I was ready to get off the plane.
My parents decided to pick me up after I got my luggage so we could get right on the road and head out. I waited for a few minutes after my luggage and walked outside to passenger pick-up. I saw my dad’s truck approaching and waved so they could see me. My mom pointed and nearly jumped out of her seat. I started to cry; tears of relief and happiness. She ran over to me and hugged me tightly and behind her was my girlfriend. I hugged everyone and could not believe I was home.
We hopped in the truck and it was there they had a Dunkin' Donuts iced coffee and red, white, and blue flowers waiting for me. I sighed and said, “I’m home.” My parents were smiling ear to ear as we navigated out of Logan Airport. Upon my request, we were going to dinner with my sister and brother-in-law because I wanted a juicy steak. My mom told me we were heading to my sister’s house to meet them and ride together, but when we pulled up to the house, I saw balloons the color of Ireland’s flag and America’s flag as well as a banner that read “Welcome Home Nicole.” Not only were there decorations, but standing on the deck was my whole family waiting for my arrival. I jumped out of the truck before it even stopped. Everyone was shouting and cheering—it was a good kind of overwhelming. I hugged everyone and stood in awe. It was such an incredible feeling knowing I was in America surrounded by the people I love. In the backyard there were tables set up for a barbecue as well as lawn games including bean bag toss. My dad even painted the boards to look like Ireland’s flag. There was country music, laughing, stories, and gifts. I couldn’t have asked for a better welcome home.
The feeling of coming home is…weird. At first, it feels like you are not used to it. Slowly, things feel normal and after a day or two it feels like you never left. When I was in Ireland, it felt like the day I left America was not real. When I got to America, it felt like I was not in Ireland for four months. It is hard to explain what was going through my mind, but I was definitely excited and ready to be home.
Now that I am here, I am realizing that reverse culture shock is real. I decided to take a week off from work to re-adjust, see family, relax, and recover, but now I feel somewhat bored because I am not used to watching a TV, sleeping in my own bed, and having all this free time. I now have to fall into a routine just as I did in Ireland, but I am still happy to be home. I have had some of the foods I missed while I was gone and I felt overwhelmed just walking through Wal-Mart—it was SO big!
I always felt that Ireland was comforting and every time I returned to Dublin after traveling, it was a relief to be “home,” but in the big scheme of things, home is home. America is home. Maine is home and I have never been so appreciative for the home I have.
So, what is my next step? Well, I am currently in contact with some families to become a summer nanny in Massachusetts where I will be living with my girlfriend. I plan to scrapbook my memories from abroad and continue writing blogs on my personal site: http://dearnicolelorraine.weebly.com/blog. I will prepare for my senior year of undergrad and move on to my 5th year to receive a Masters’ degree in Public Relations. I have minimal plans for summer, but I know it will be a good one since 2016 has already been off to great start.
Traveling abroad was my dream for years, and just like that I have done so. I have traveled, seen many parts of the world, and made lasting memories with amazing people. Now, I plan to set a new goal and work toward other dreams. I now know anything is possible and if I want something, I can get there with diligence and dedication.
To future study abroad students, work hard and never stop chasing your dreams. This kind of opportunity is once in a lifetime and it is not something you should miss. I promise you it will be one of the most rewarding and amazing journeys of your life.
I have thoroughly enjoyed taking you all on my journey through these blogs. It is unreal that this journey ends here. If anything, I hope I gave insight to the life of a study abroad student. These last four months were incredible and I would not change a thing. As I wrap up my final blog, I wish nothing but the best to anyone who chooses to study abroad. It is life-changing and you will not regret it.
Until my next journey, farewell to this one.