Sunday, June 09, 2013

Home

This will probably be my last post to this blog. I realized that I never updated it saying that I indeed made it home successfully from Botswana. It's crazy to think one year ago, yesterday I was stepping foot on American soil for the first time in 2 years and 2 months. Plenty has happened over that year and I figured I could update a little bit about that.

The flight home wasn't too bad, even with the changes. I was able to get home safely and catch up on a few movies. The feeling of going home was pretty awesome. I just kept thinking how I did it! Against all odds I completed my Peace Corps Service and was finally getting to go home. I was officially an RPCV (Returned Peace Corps Volunteer). It was a wonderful feeling! When I got off the plane I had around 20 of my friends and family members at the airport waiting at the gate to welcome me home! There were many tears of joy shed and it was awesome to be surrounded by the ones I loved again. We went to Skyline Chili on our way home and it was glorious!

Re-adjustment back to the American ways wasn't as hard as I thought it was going to be. Although, I still refuse to get a smartphone so maybe I am still not completely readjusted back to the USA. I had a few freak-out grocery isle moments the first week back. The first one happened when my mother took me to the grocery store to re-stock my toiletries and I remember staring at the isle of facial cleansers not knowing which one to choose, cause there were so many of them. I began to become angry and upset with the surplus amount of choices us Americans have. It was pretty overwhelming. I also remember being very excited by the amount of fresh fruits and vegetables that were now readily available. I couldn't wait to dig into that.

The next few weeks were full of lunch and dinner dates. It was great eating all of the foods I hadn't been able to for the past couple years. Mostly these dates were full of catching up with old friends and being questioned about my time over in Botswana. I remember getting tired of answering the same questions over and over again, and soon I realized how to judge between those who really cared to hear about my time over there and who only wanted the Reader's Digest summed up version. That was rather difficult to deal with at times. How do you sum up 2 year's and 2 months of experiences in to a few short sentences??? I also remember getting pretty annoyed whenever people would ask "How was Africa?" as if Africa is one big place. I lived in Botswana, which is very different than other parts of Africa so how am I supposed to know how Africa is?? That would be like saying "How is North America??"

I also struggled with how much things cost. It was pretty rough for a while. I had decided to go back to school to get my Associates Degree in Ecotourism and Adventure Travel. Since I already have a Bachelors Degree, I didn't really get any Financial Aid Assistance and the readjustment allowance Peace Corps gives us upon return to the states didn't go very far. The first 6 months back was a struggle money-wise, but somehow I made do. I was able to get a job back with my old work at Hocking Hills Canopy Tours and working part time at the school I would be attending. It was a fun summer working in the office and hanging out with camp kids.

Before school started, I had to go on a backpacking trip for my Into to Ecotourism class. I know rough life right? That was the first time I realized, not everyone wants to hear about my time in Botswana. I think I annoyed everyone on that trip with my stories. Anytime anyone would say anything I found myself relating it to Botswana. By the end of the week I realized how annoying I was probably being and told myself I needed to stop telling people about my Peace Corps experience, unless they asked. That took some time, but I feel I have gotten to that place where I can talk about my experiences without annoying people.

Over the past year I have pretty much been going to school and working various jobs. School has been a lot of fun and I really feel like I have found a field I can truly be passionate about. I will finish up school in December and hopefully be off to some new adventures working in the outdoors as a guide or instructor maybe for Outward Bound or a Wilderness Therapy type of place. I have come to realize how much I enjoy being outside and if I can get a job where I am paid to be outside I will be happy.

As for my time in Botswana, I find myself missing the slower paced life sometimes and I definitely miss my friends over there. Luckily technology has come a long way and I still stay in touch with some of them. Hopefully one day in the future I will be able to go back and visit. I am very grateful for my Peace Corps experience. Although it wasn't always easy and there were many times I wanted to quit and go home, I am glad I finished it out and served the whole time. I wouldn't trade my time over there for the world. Would I do it again? Probably not, but Peace Corps Response (shorter stints of 3 months - 1 year) is always an option I would for sure be willing to do. Or if I ever got married and my husband (whoever he may be) wanted to serve, I would totally do it with him. So who knows maybe I'll find myself in another rural village somewhere, learning their culture and trying to make a positive difference in their community. Till then I am taking life as it comes and enjoying every minute of it :)

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