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Home again August 10, 2010

Posted by gtpspdirector in Travel Log.
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That picture above is by far my favorite sight of the entire trip.  For those of you who don’t come through Hartsfield-Jackson on a regular basis, that little girl is at the top of the escalators leading to baggage claim, welcoming everyone to Atlanta.  When I saw her (after an hour of going through customs) I let out a breath I had been holding all day long.  I could feel the tension draining out of me and a smile came across my face.  I knew then that my adventure had ended.

I’m sitting in a Barnes and Noble cafe right now, sipping a deliciously American Mocha Frappacino, looking at all of the blessedly English books, holding a few green US Dollars in my wallet.  It’s weird how easily I can slip back into life at home, while at the same time still leaving part of myself in Europe.  I’ll walk down the street or be sitting in my house, just doing what I’m doing, when I’ll stop and notice something that’s missing or strange.  For example, there are no dogs inside of stores and I can easily order food, without having to pantomime or struggle to communicate.

I’ve come out of it with a new perspective on everything I believe.  Being a student of government means I’ve spent the entire trip hyper-aware of the differences, disputes, and similarities between the US and the EU-27.  I never ceased being a supporter of the United States, despite my worries that I’d come out disgusted/embarrassed with my nation after spending 3 months submerged in EU policy.  I didn’t look at everything Europeans have done and immediately see their brilliance.  What I now have, though, is a basis for comparison, so that I can really see the pros and cons of the domestic policies I will be studying over the next few years.

This has been by my most valuable summer professionally, personally, and academically (if not financially).  I can go into the world a little bit more informed, a little bit more prepared, a little bit more tolerant and understanding of others and their views.  That’s what studying abroad does for you, gives you space so that you can truly understand who you are, where you’ve come from, and where you can go.

Now, I go back to the grind that is daily Georgia Tech life.  I won’t be hung up on Brussels, Belgium, or Europe in general, but while I work, live, and play in the United States, a little part of me will remain several thousand miles away.  It will be waiting, patiently, for the time I return, whether for business or leisure.

And when I do return, I’m sure it will be like slipping on an old jacket.  I will step out of the terminal in Heathrow, or Brussels National, or Frankfurt, look around, sigh, smile, and then jump right back into it, enjoying every second.

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