I arrived home yesterday afternoon. After 4.5 months in France and ending with 10 days in Italy, I was ready to come home. On the train back to France from Italy, the train passed a cornfield and all of a sudden I got a little homesick (I guess I really am Midwestern). Venice to Montpellier was 14 hrs by train, then I spent 9 hours in the city, and finally the 17 hour trip from Montpellier to Waukesha. The nine hours in Montpellier were spent taking advantage of my last night in the city and packing. My bag was exactly 23 kilos – the limit on Air France (a large improvement from the original 35 kilos I originally had in my large suitcase – I think it was the two bottles of wine that did me in). Thanks to the lovely air traffic control grévistes in Montpellier, my first plane was late resulting in me literally running through Charles de Gaulle (which is not fun with a suitcase that doesn’t roll). On my first day in France, there was a manifestation against Ben Ali – my last day there was a strike. I ❤ France.
During the flight, I took advantage of their selection of French movies trying to hear as much French during my last moments before returning home. In the 4.5 months I spent in France, I’ve asked a couple French people how to translate “awkward,” as in that uncomfortable feeling that occurs in social situations when you don’t really know what to do. One girl told me (jokingly), “we don’t have a word because French people are never socially awkward.” FALSE. Les Emotifs Anonymes is 1h20 min of pure social awkwardness. That being said, it’s a really cute movie about overcoming your fears for love and chocolate. But I digress…
Being back in America is somewhat strange. It’s weird being able to understand 100% of the conversations going on (even when I don’t want to). The roads are different. Even the things that were so ordinary before are now so different. When I got home, I went to pour myself a glass of orange juice and my first thought taking the carton out of the fridge was, “this carton is huge!” Then I went to get a glass and thought the same thing. One great thing about home was taking a long shower, with a shower curtain, and not having to turn off the water during the shower. It was glorious! So far being home is absolute bliss. Don’t get me wrong, France was great; great people, great experiences, but as Dorthy says, “there is no place like home.” My family celebrated my homecoming with a big bowl of Asam Laksa. Funny how one of the things I missed most about America is Asian food ^_^V
About a week before the program ended in Montpellier, we all got an e-mail about what to expect coming home. It makes returning to the US seem so depressing. According to the article, even “the most empathetic [of your friends] sometimes just won’t ‘get it,'” you’ll feel “rootless” and “no longer feel attached to [your] home culture,” and may have a “fragmented sense of conflicted identities.” Sounds peachy, doesn’t it? Like I said, I’m still feeling a bit of the just-got-back-and-am-seeing-people-I-haven’t-seen-in-literally-months euphoria, but if I go crashing down into the inevitable endless abyss of depression and solitude drowning in nostalgia of memories past, I’ll let you know. For now, I’ll just enjoy home, and finish up the posts I’m lacking from the end of Easter break and let you know all about Italy! Until then.