It’s been about a month now, that I’ve returned home from my ten months journey in Istanbul. I’ve moved from my home town Berlin to the city where East meets West to study abroad for two semesters. The time flew by while I explored my new home, visited amazing places in Turkey and adapted to the local life in Istanbul. The last couples of weeks in Istanbul went by quickly and before I knew it, I found myself on a plane back home. It was time to leave.
The first few days at home were quite busy. Spending them unpacking my stuffed suitcases, catching up with friends and family and running errands. A week later, as everything calmed down, it felt as if I’ve never left. Istanbul on the other hand, felt like a distant place that I had visited a long time ago. Coming home is such a familiar feeling that it can be quite easy to settle back into life at home.
However, coming home does not always feel that way. This year it was actually my second time that I’ve been able to experience how it feels to come home after living abroad. Several years ago (six to be exact!), I spent a high school year in the southern part of the US. It was the most exciting and rewarding experience that I had until then and the truth is: coming home was actually more difficult than leaving was.
I feel bad for saying it, but at that time I did not want to come home, because my little suburb that I had lived in, felt exactly like it. Don’t get me wrong, I am lucky to have a loving place to return to and of course I had missed my parents, siblings and friends, whom I haven’t been able to visit during the whole high school year, but coming home didn’t feel right at that point. Because back in Berlin I felt out of place and restless.
Returning to Berlin this year felt different. I had mixed feelings about returning and it was definitely a bittersweet goodbye. On the one hand, Istanbul became my second home (and I can’t wait to travel back!), but on the other hand I was ready to be reunited with my friends, family and my boyfriend, who had to return to Berlin two months earlier than me.
It’s undeniable that living in another country will change you. Everyone that has lived abroad will agree with me (right?). When coming home from living abroad, you realize that basically nothing has changed, as if time stood still. But you did change. You did not only learn a lot about the country that you have lived in, it’s culture and it’s people, but also a lot about yourself. Because living (and traveling) abroad teaches you life lessons that help you grow as a person. Over the last couple of months I’ve collected irreplaceable experiences and had to conquer all kinds of challenges. All of these up and downs that I underwent were responsible for changing me. And although changes might be scary, I wouldn’t want to miss them!
I would love to hear about your experiences. How did you feel, when coming home from living abroad or after traveling long-term?