I returned home from my exchange eight days ago. When I left, I didn't really know what to think; I'd been overcome by countless emotions, both good and bad, but I was surprised about how similar leaving Turkey was like leaving America. I knew I'd miss my friends, my family and my home, but it was hard leaving and not knowing when I'd see those things again, or if I ever would. I was also excited to be coming home to see my American friends and family. I was feeling ready to get moving on to the next step of my life, but right now I don't even know what that is. Right now I'm at an in between for the next 6-12 months, then I'll be studying something at some university. I have a little bit to figure out before then.
I'd like to start by saying that being home is weird. Everything looks the same, everyone pretty much acts the same, but I don't feel the same. I still feel like Annie, but I look at things and people differently. I see this as a good different, but it's strange nonetheless. I'm more open to try new things, or just anything at all. I can see the difference between important and unimportant tasks, and I know better how to go about both situations. I think about other people's situations and put myself in other peoples' shoes. I'm more confident in myself, but I feel a weird feeling of comfort and discomfort in my own shoes. I feel comfortable because I feel like I know myself better than I ever have, but uncomfortable because I don't fit into my lifestyle the way I used to. Obviously my friends have also changed in the year that I've been abroad, but it's been a different change. Most of them are just starting their first big step, but I've just finished mine, putting us in slightly different places. Despite the differences, I'm surprised about how much fun I'm having with my crazy teenage American friends whom I haven't seen in a year!
Over the past year, I've learned about not a lot separates us from the people half a world away from us. We may look different or go about our daily lives differently, but at the end of the day, we all love our families and friends and want what's best for them. I mean, I've only stepped foot on four different countries, but what I've learned from my friends from all over the world and my own first hand experiences is that we're not all that different.
I see a lot of change occurring in myself over the next year, perhaps even more than what's happened over the past year. I plan on doing a combination of studying, working, volunteering and of course, travelling. I'm eager to learn more about the world around me, through both travel and people. I know that not all my goals might not be feasible, but I've got my whole life ahead of me, and I'm excited to see what's in store!