Former Staff Member Column: Forgetting Where Home Is.

One would think that going to new places is more difficult than going back home. For some reason, I feel the opposite way. You are not supposed to have high expectations of the places you visit for the first time. In the best case, you don’t have any expectations at all. That way you won’t be disappointed.

As long as you manage to put this theory into action, your chance of having an enjoyable experience is pretty good. In my case, it worked out perfectly. Actually, that’s an understatement I’m able to say that the year I spent in the United States might have been the best one of my life so far.

When I set out for a year abroad, I wasn’t exactly freaking out. I was not as nervous as one might think. Consequently, I was positively overwhelmed by the way I was welcomed and by what I discovered. I knew I wasn’t leaving home forever, that I would go back after a while, so why not enjoy the time I had? And that’s exactly what I did.

Going back home, on the other hand, seemed like quite a challenge. I was nervous. One might have thought I was going to spend a year far away from home. But no. I had just done that and actually managed just fine.

Home is supposed to be the place that you always feel comfortable. Nowhere else is it so easy to just naturally be yourself. But everyone warns you that, after a year, everything will have changed — especially you. So, there you are, about to go back to people that you’re supposed to love and miss, and all you can think of is how you can possibly keep everything and everyone that has become a part of you from drifting away.

If you get stuck in Chicago on your trip home because you missed your connecting flight, and you’re considering sharing a hotel room with a stranger or sleeping on excruciating airport benches, or taking a cab downtown at around midnight — well, I makes you wonder how long you can keep floating between the two worlds that you love.

Yeah, it’s going to last a little longer. But then you get to the point when life goes back to normal. Actually to something better than normal because you, and the world, seem to have grown a lot. You accept that being happy here doesn’t mean that “there” becomes less significant. While few people seem to be truly interested or understanding, you get better at combining. You just have an incredibly great time with your friends and family.

I guess this could seem like some kind of satisfying end to the story. To be honest though, I have no clue. It’s just not over yet.