Writing my last blog post means that my quarter in South Africa is officially over (even though I technically returned to the US almost two months ago), so naturally, I’ve been putting off this post as long as possible. It already feels like I’ve been back forever, though, so I figure it’s finally time to recap my quarter abroad and write about my re-adjustment to life in America.
I actually settled back into life at home pretty easily: I moved back into my apartment, resumed working in a psychology lab, and drank a lot of Starbucks to make up for the lack of it in South Africa. Basically, life has returned to normal. The hardest thing about being home, though, has been settling back into a strict routine. In South Africa, we hardly had any sense of a routine at all. Some weeks we had class, and other weeks we spent in different parts of the country. Some days we went to class in a classroom, and other days, we had class at a hospital, clinic, or health organization. During our free time, we went on countless adventures – hiking, going to the beach, exploring Stellenbosch, shopping, and so on. At first, the lack of routine was stressful. There was a lot of “when is that assignment due?” and “where do we have class?” and “is this a free weekend, or is something planned?” Even though we got a calendar of our schedule for the quarter, it felt like things were often up in the air. However, returning home and resuming my 9-5 daily work schedule has really led me to appreciate the spontaneity our schedule in South Africa often had. Having such a varied schedule caused me to be a lot more lighthearted and carefree. Because I never really knew what to expect, every day became an adventure. I could be sitting in class one day, hiking to the top of a mountain the next, and exploring the city of Cape Town the day after that. It’s been hard to recapture that sense of adventure in my everyday life back home, and it’s a feeling I really miss.
Despite the struggles of adjustment to life back home, I wouldn’t trade my 77 days in South Africa for the world. I met some amazing people, saw some amazing things, and had so many amazing adventures. I learned more about public health and community development than I ever could have learned in a quarter at home. And I fell in love with the most beautiful country. I don’t know when I’ll be back to South Africa, but I know I will be someday.