Home Again

This embarrassingly late post comes a bit over a week after my return to the US.  I’d like to blame jet lag for my tardiness, but honestly the return trip wasn’t nearly as bad as the one there.  Well, let me correct part of that–the return flight from Paris to Detroit was awful, as it was daytime and I could not sleep at all.  However, I experienced almost no jet lag…probably because, by the time I got home, I had been awake for about 22 hours and was able to go to sleep immediately around 10:00 PM.

No, it is not jet lag that has kept me from posting, but a simple combination of business and laziness.  Adjusting back to America has been easy in some ways, but tricky in others.  Having regular access to ice, air conditioning, and free refills has been nice.  So has the fact that everyone speaks English.  I do miss a lot of the food, though–and still have to fight the urge to say please, thank you, and excuse me in Czech from force of habit.

I think the weirdest thing getting home is the discovery that despite existing for six weeks on a diet of restaurant bread, beer, meat, and chocolate, I somehow lost about eight pounds.  I guess I did a lot more walking than I thought!

I wish I had more grand, sweeping statements about what my time in the Czech Republic meant to me, but honestly I feel like I’ll need some time to get perspective on it.  From what I have read, I should start going through reverse culture shock pretty soon.  I don’t know if that’s true, but I do know that it’s a lot easier now to look at local (or even national) concerns that seem to grip everyone else, and think that they actually seem pretty small.  It’s different, and very humbling, to know there are entire countries and continents of people who simply are not affected by the things we’re concerned about.  For the first time I have a sense of the scope of how varied people are, and how different experiences we all have.

If you haven’t been abroad, I can’t suggest enough that you go.  Not even for study abroad, necessarily, but for at least long enough that you’re not simply a tourist.  The man who drove me to the airport was a former American who had come to Prague twenty years ago to teach English for a year, and simply never left.  If I had chosen for some reason not to get on my plane home, I could have ended up doing the exact same thing.  Meeting people from another country helps you view people worldwide as “real” people, instead of just statistics.  In a world where there are fewer and fewer communication barriers worldwide, and our decisions start affecting the entire world, I think it’s very important to remember the humanity of people in far away places.

I’m starting to ramble a bit.  Maybe when more time has passed I’ll be able to put this into a more coherent statement, but for now I’ll just say that I’m glad to be home, and am looking forward to traveling abroad again someday.