Cole Taylor is 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 are studying abroad in Dublin this semester.
In this week's post, Cole thinks about who they are today, having experienced a different way of life in Ireland, and how their time abroad will have shaped them as they navigate life back in the United States.
- - -
“It’s a funny thing coming home. Nothing changes. Everything looks the same, feels the same, even smells the same. You realize what’s changed is you.” ~ F. Scott Fitzgerald
I have thought about this prompt for so long—since before I left for Ireland. I wondered how I would change, or if I would change at all. Would my expectations be altered? My values? What about how I see the world?
I'm struggling to come to terms with the end of this journey. I often think about time. I count down the days to an event just like I did with leaving for Ireland. I have counted down the days until I go home, back to America. Here I am just a month away from that day and I all of a sudden realize there is so much to think about. Everyone at home has been going about their lives: work, school, holidays, birthdays, and sleep in between. Nothing has stopped happening. For me, it feels like everything has changed.
Ever since I set foot in Ireland, life has changed. I have worked, gone to classes, shopped for groceries, cooked, slept, and gone out on weekends. It all looks the same on the outside, but I have done all of these things the Irish way. I am no longer completely accustomed to the American way of life. That is not to say I do not remember what it is like, but you would be surprised. I have formed a routine here and it does not scare me to go home, but I am curious.
I wonder how I have changed to other people. I will not know until I am surrounded by familiarity again. I have learned to navigate, research, adapt, survive, and achieve all while being abroad. When I go home, I am not sure many of those things will be as evident because I will not be booking trips or living with people of other cultures or relying on maps to navigate, but I will have changed—how clear will the changes be? I have grown to be more patient and work as a team player and that will be blatant to people who know me well. Since arriving in Ireland, I know how to find ways to feel ‘at home’ while away from home. I have adapted, coped, adjusted, and accustomed and now I have to go home and basically do it all over again.
It is strange to think about your home country as a foreign place. I often tell people about this weird thing that has happened over time. When I arrived in Ireland, I missed America—home. For the first few weeks, I thought about home more than I imagined I would. After my first trip out of Ireland, I still thought of America and how much I missed certain things. My second trip out of Ireland, something different happened…I missed Ireland—home. Quickly, this place that once felt so foreign, became home and I would be so relieved to walk into apartment 012 after a long weekend. Things change when you are abroad.
When I stop and think about home, it is sometimes overwhelming. I feel like my life at home is on pause and it is waiting for me to return and pick up where I left off. However, I do not think that can happen at this point. I have acquired so much new knowledge and I have experienced things I never thought I would that have impacted my way of life as an individual. My life will no longer be the same, but who is to say that is not a positive? Study abroad has taught me more about life than I imagined it could. It is way more than traveling and meeting people. It is something I cannot find the words to explain but only encourage people to do it themselves.
I am aware I still have a month left in Europe—a month to travel, make memories, and do all the things I have not accomplished yet, but this is the time that I really start to think about home. I am prepared to take the month of May and make it a journey in itself, but I am eager for the final destination: America.
I am anxious and excited to go back home. I am curious to see the changes in myself. I wish I knew what they were now, but it will not be until I am re-introduced to America that I will find out. I guess that is something else to be excited about! Change is good and maybe people around me will not notice a thing, but in the back of my mind, there will be this experience; an experience no one else can truly understand. No matter how many pictures they look at or how many stories I tell, it can never convey the journey I had. I know this has changed me, but what I do not know is who I will be when I go home.
Cole's journey continues every Friday so stay tuned.