Monday, February 27, 2012

Alumni Post: Renee Sanderford on Returning Home

One of the most challenging and simultaneously rewarding parts of travel and studying abroad is putting together the pieces of your life when you return home. Renee Sanderford, one of our ISP Fall '11 students, recently shared these thoughts with us on her readjustment process.
Renee and a friend on Sudder Street in Calcutta during travel component last semester
Once I finally made it home and saw my family greeting me in the airport, I had a thought like "Hey you. I found you just where I left you." It did not seem like I had been in another country for 3.5 months. 

I could tell that for the most part they stayed the same, but I had changed completely. I returned with people pointing out that I had matured and that I seem to be more confident in myself; I especially was told this when I returned to my university. In the beginning it was really neat to receive those compliments, but when people are constantly telling me that, I start wonder "how did I change?" I know that I changed; how could someone not after living in another country? 
Brooklyn and Renee jump for joy at the Taj Mahal during our visit to Agra last semester.
The struggle that I continue to have is realizing a change in myself. I do not see it. I guess that you could say that I was "forced" to change almost EVERYTHING about the lifestyle that I held onto for twenty years of my life in order to live in India for only 3.5 months. Returning to the States I was not prepared for the reality that only 3.5 months was enough to change my life completely! People continue to tell me that it will take the same amount of time that you were away to adjust back to your usual way of living. I am totally fine with that. The experience that I had should rock my world and make it do a complete 360! 

It was hard because I returned to a winter break where I had the chance to begin 'fitting back into' life at home, and then I had to adapt all over again to my university. Both my friends and family have been SO supportive of my return and offering a listening ear; sometimes they will ask me a question about India and I will go on and on and on and on. Currently, I still feel  anti-social in group settings (I am normally a social butterfly), I am in constant thought about social issues, and I have more of an appreciation for education. I am in constant thought about my new family in India and the memories that I made while I was there.
Text by Renee Sanderford

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