Monday, January 24, 2011

6 Weeks Later

I  have been back in the U.S. for almost six weeks now. Uganda seems like a distant memory, and sometimes I wonder if it really even happened. After spending a full 24 hours in transit, I landed in Columbus on December 15th just before midnight. Christmas break at home was a much easier adjustment than I had anticipated. After the first couple days of having a messed up sleep schedule and being generally disoriented, I got in to a normal routine. For the week leading up to Christmas, I worked quite a bit, which kept me busy enough that the full realization that I had left Uganda for good didn't hit me like a train. Before coming home, I was worried that I would be moody with my family, but that wasn't the case, and Christmas break was a great time of catching up with family and friends. 

Coming back to Cedarville was the challenging part of reentry. I walked around our students' center when I got back and didn't see a single person I knew or even recognized. I didn't think that much could change in just one semester! The first couple days were very surreal. I felt like Cedarville had moved on without me, like I was looking in on some sort of parallel universe: it looked like my school, but really wasn't. I had chosen to live off-camps, but was scared that that was a poor choice-- that I'd be so far removed from campus I'd never see anyone and be a hermit.Well, that was two weeks ago. Since then, I've been able to reconnect with many friends, attend my church here and reconnect with the amazing church family I have here, and get re-acclimated to American college subculture. I've learned that my true friends I see routinely, regardless of whether or not I'm in a dorm.

Of course, I get the same questions a lot, like the uber-vague "How was it?" (really, you expect me to give you a 30-second synopsis of my entire 4 months? really? I've found that the people who ask this are generally satisfied with an answer like "it was good") or the even worse "What did you learn? (this is a great question, but it's just hard for me to answer, since I'm still trying to sort out what I learned myself. Lately, though, I feel like I've been able to really open up about my trip. In an introduction letter I was required to write for a professor, I was able to share my struggles about coming home. As I get back into my friendships, my stories and experience from fall semester come out in conversation. I'm getting more comfortable giving tidy little ten minute summaries, that I feel do give an adequate description of my work, play, joys, and struggles while in Uganda. Tonight, we (the group of Cedarville girls who participated in the Uganda Studies Programme) did an interview with a student public relations worker for Cedarville's website, and tomorrow we're talking about our internships at the Epsilon Alpha Pi (Cedarville's social work organization) meeting.

So here I am , six weeks post-Africa. Still praying that I will continue to learn from my experiences and be able to integrate them well into my American life.