I’ve been back in Colorado for two weeks now, after spending a week in the United Kingdom, exploring Bath and Oxford and stumbling through speaking English again.
Returning home has been a more surreal experience than anyone prepared me for, but it is nice being back with my friends and family — and getting to see the mountains every day!
One of my favorite parts about being home has been the food I’ve been missing the last four months. It’s hard to explain how, after being abroad for a long time, simple meals like macaroni and cheese become even more luxurious than the finest delicacies of France.
However, it has taken some getting used to eating dinner at six after a semester of eating no sooner than eight thirty, and I am absolutely flabbergasted at how many things have high fructose corn syrup in them!
Like everyone else returning to Boulder this week, it’s hard to believe we start class again in a mere seven days. Break has flown by, but I’m excited to get back into a routine and to be on campus again.
My biggest class in France was fifteen people, though, so I’m a little nervous about the one or two big lecture courses I have this semester (although, fortunately, I managed to escape Chem 140’s perilous grasp).
My homecoming has seen a number of challenges, from adjusting to how spread out everything is, to re-learning how to use my smart phone, to having to discover and adapt to the ways in which the people with whom I’m closest have changed and grown since I’ve been gone.
This in particular is certain to take quite a bit of time; I fell into that all-too-common mindset that while I was abroad, life in Colorado would stand still, which was kind of a silly thing to assume.
I have grown and changed so much in the months I’ve been gone, but change is not limited to geographic location. As much as people try to resist it, it’s just a natural part of life. It’s been hard to discover and handle these last two weeks, but I hope that with time I’ll enjoy getting to know the people I love all over again.
I really miss being in Paris — from being able to see the Eiffel Tower from my kitchen to hearing ten different languages on my morning commute, it’s definitely hard adjusting to the “same old same old” of being back home.
At the same time, though, one of the things I learned in Paris was how the littlest things contribute to the big picture.
A woman mouthing the words to whatever song is currently on her iPod while walking down the street, a person having the courage to wear something fabulously bizarre, a man stopping to help a stranger who looks lost; life is made up of tiny aspects like these.
As Emily Dickinson said, “Forever is composed of nows” — and it’s important to me to notice all the little nows that I am sure to find once I get back to the daily grind, as they can serve as reminders of the minute ways in which people’s paths cross, if even for a moment.
And as I return to campus, I’ll be thinking of all the people whose paths are intersecting with mine. See you around, Buffs!
Jessica Ryan is a junior media studies major at CU-Boulder. She writes about study abroad experiences once a week for the Colorado Daily. On Twitter: @JessicaLRyan.