What or where is “Home”?

17 Oct

It has been almost one month since I left China and returned to the USA. Sometimes it feels like I was in Asia yesterday, and other times I wonder if I was ever really there. It almost seems like I never left Virginia, except that I have these new memories and ideas that I didn’t have 8 months ago. Time is funny like that. When I was gone I thought of this place as my home, but now being here I realize that it’s not true. Virginia is no longer my home, it is just a place where my family lives and where I have collected memories. I don’t think this idea of “home” really exists. It’s just a word to call a place where you live. If anything, I feel more like a stranger here than I have in the past 6 months or so.

The first couple of weeks were really strange. I had no idea what reverse culture shock really felt like until then. Some days it felt that I was trapped in some never-ending vivid dream. I was witnessing everything, but wasn’t really involved. I was, still am, very much inside my head because that’s what I got used to when I was a minority for half a year and didn’t speak enough of whatever local language to really express myself.

I kind of stayed holed up inside my father’s house, because I wasn’t ready for the outside world that was Hampton Roads. At first I thought I was avoiding old friends by staying shut in, but then I realized it wasn’t just that, but many of my friends had moved locations or just moved on. And honestly I feel that I’ve changed a lot and am not interested in many of the things I was once interested in. I knew this would happen and I am not upset in any way. Life is ever-changing and so we must be too.

Now I have all this extra time on my hands, which means I have more time to plan my next trip instead of living in the moment, and it’s kind of driving me crazy. I try to remember back to what I did with my time before I left, and back then I was busy juggling work, school, a boyfriend, family, and friends. I am still looking for more consistent work because two days a week making coffee isn’t really helping out much. I have had chances to start new romantic relationships, but to be honest I am just not interested. I’ve either been in a relationship or breaking up since I was about 16 years old and it’s exhausting and distracting.

I guess it just feels like a sort of limbo because I can’t start anything that requires long-term responsibility since I am just leaving again in about three months. But at the same time, I don’t want to just sit around and wait for February to get here, because then what was the point of coming back to Virginia? I am making an effort. I go for runs, spend most of my time with family, go to lots of interviews, join organized social groups, and work a few days a week. And yet, I still don’t feel like I am really here.

Have you ever felt this way after returning from traveling for an extended period? What do you do to ease back into the transition?

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7 Responses to “What or where is “Home”?”

  1. mms1130 October 17, 2013 at 8:31 PM #

    Nice post, Meghan! I think we talked about this before, but for me, my second trip home was way easier than my first one, both because I was prepared for the reverse culture shock and because I was busy visiting people the whole time. But I think you are taking the right approach by trying to stay busy.. remember the things that you’ll miss when you come back and focus on them. And study Chinese! I think my first trip home was when I learned the most Khmer, because that’s what I did when I missed Cambodia. There are lots of free resources online. Good luck! 🙂

    • vitaviva96 October 17, 2013 at 8:38 PM #

      Thanks, girl!

      Yeah, I remember you telling me about the difference between the first and second trip home, and I was actually think about that conversation today. 🙂
      Did you use the internet to teach yourself Khmer? I tried to work with a language exchange partner to learn Mandarin but I really didn’t like the way he was teaching so that didn’t work out.

      • mms1130 October 18, 2013 at 11:21 PM #

        Yes, the internet! I used the stuff on this website in particular http://fsi-language-courses.org/Content.php and they do have Chinese, but since it’s more common than Khmer you should check out the other sites listed here, too: http://gizmodo.com/five-free-online-tools-to-learn-another-language-734123988

      • vitaviva96 October 19, 2013 at 12:26 AM #

        Thank you so much for the websites, Megan! I actually went to the FSI one tonight and did the first tape for Mandarin and the tones it uses. It’s funny how I thought the tones were so intimidating when I was in in China, but now that I am back in the States and trying to learn, it makes so much more sense! Go figure :p

  2. Sally October 18, 2013 at 2:39 AM #

    I’m going home on Christmas and I’ll be there a month, so we’ll see what happens. I think it’s probably much harder because the time is longer, so you’re having to create income. Visiting people for 3 months is kind of hard to sustain, haha.

    Try a road trip or two? Maybe pick up a new hobby? Let me know how it goes. I’ll be dealing with the same, soon enough.

    • vitaviva96 October 18, 2013 at 9:20 AM #

      Of course I can’t say for sure, but I bet your trip back for Christmas is going to be a whirlwind and will fly by. 😉

      Great ideas about the hobby and roadtrips. I really would like to go on down to Florida and up to NYC so I’ll try to make that work. 🙂

      P.s. Are you going back to South Korea?

      • Sally October 19, 2013 at 10:13 PM #

        Probably, but not right away. I’m trying to find something to do that won’t feel… stale for lack of a better word. Time will tell!

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