Pre-Homecoming Jitters

One week. One week, and I’ll be landing at Detroit Metro Airport. I would be lying if I said I’m not scared. After all, I’ve spent a year on this continent and nine months in this village and apartment. Austria no longer feels foreign to me; it feels just as normal as Michigan. It has become my home away from home. And, if I’m allowed to say it, I’m nervous to go back to my “real” home, my parent’s home, in Rochester Hills, Michigan.

I’m afraid the normal will feel foreign. I’m afraid I will be foreign. I’m afraid I’ve changed so much that I won’t be able to fit back into my old roles: daughter, sister, friend, Michigander, American. I’m afraid I’ll have a travel comedown involving irrational behavior, extended moping around the house in pajamas and a lot of chocolate.

I’ve been preparing myself mentally for the last month or so for my departure. I’ve made my bucket list for the summer and told myself I’m going to have a good time. But what will happen after the novelty of being home wears off?

I remember the last time I came home from an extended trip to Germany. I was 17 and had been there a month (up until last May, this was the longest I’d been abroad). Upon my arrival back in the US, I remember quite clearly hating everything about Rochester and constantly singing Germany’s praises, while simultaneously bitching about the United States. My mom still likes to remind me what a little shit I was at this point in my life. I’ve matured about 5 years since then, so I can only hope I won’t be a heinous, complaining bitch this time around. But I had gone on the trip with 36 of my classmates, and we were able to miss Germany together. Now, I’m the only one that’s been abroad and had these experiences.

All Photos by Cia de Foto

I’ve read countless of blog posts and articles about keeping the feeling of travel alive, doing what I want before it’s too late and what not to do when I return home. I feel prepared and ready to go home and have a good time, but it doesn’t change the fact that I’m nervous for my homecoming.

Maybe when I get home, it’ll be easy and great, and I’ll wonder why I was so nervous. But, for now, I’m scared and I don’t know what to expect. And I think that’s OK when one is on the cusp of such a huge change, a new phase in her life.

What do you think? What is coming home like for you? Let me know in the comments.

Until next time.
Cheers,
Alaina

PS, I’m holding off on updating about my trip to Berlin until I get the pictures developed. But don’t worry, I have a lot to write about 😉

Notes On Packing: Or, How Am I Going to Fit 1 Year of My Life in 3 Suitcases?

Luckily, I don’t have this much baggage. … Nearly, though.

Photo by kthread

I’ll be the first to admit that I have a problem. Well, maybe more like two or three problems. As I sit here on my bed surrounded by postcards, ticket stubs, half of pairs of socks, six pairs of jeans and books I never read while playing a game called TAKE, TOSS or STORE, my problems are impossible to ignore and borderline embarrassing. And the first step is admitting to that problem, right? Here goes.

Problem #1: I’m a chronic overpacker. Let me put it this way: I went home for three weeks at Christmas and came back with an extra bag, bringing my suitcase total up to 4. For the return trip, I’m attempting to limit myself to the use of two suitcases, while leaving one (the largest one) stored here for my return in the fall. This has made me realize that I own a lot of clothing… But I never have anything to wear. Huh, the conundrum of being a girl. This leads into…

Problem #1.5: I like having stuff. Now, I wouldn’t go so far as to say I’m materialistic, but I like things. When I get paid, I enjoy spending my money on clothes, books, magazines, shoes — pretty much, anything and everything I absolutely don’t need. I recognize this needs to stop, and recently it has, but not before I accumulated so much stuff in this apartment that I’m not sure what I’m going to do with it.

Photo by Drew Coffman

Problem #2: I’m a hoarder. The most difficult part of this packing extravaganza is sorting through everything I own, one year’s worth of stuff!, and deciding what to do with it. And guess what? I hate parting with nearly everything. I’ve managed to fill my bedroom in Michigan with movie ticket stubs, pictures I took in middle school of people I no longer talk to, magazines and random party favors. Spending a year in Europe has given me an extraordinary opportunity to collect useless brochures, un-sent postcards, train ticket stubs, cards/postcards/letters people sent to me and everything in between. In this case, I don’t keep these things just because I like them, but because it has true sentimental value to me. Tossing the souvenirs in the trash bag makes me sad.

So I sit here, surrounded by my life and memories of this year, with my apartment in shambles and I am perplexed. I’m not sure how I’m ever supposed to fit everything into a few suitcases, and I wonder how my assistant friends are faring with this packing business.

Photo by zenobia_joy

But mark my words: I’m going to get home and streamline this process for next year. First step, be able to strap my life on my back. Then… try to take over the world. Or something like that.

Do you have problems packing, too? Or do you think I’m insane? Let me know in the comments!

Until next time…
Cheers,
Alaina