It has been exactly one month since the MV Explorer docked in San Diego and I had to say farewell to a home that I had grown so attached to. It has taken me five times to try and write this blog, but I think I finally have what I want to say, it has only taken me one month. The most important thing I am going to stress in this post is just how difficult it is to adjust back to this life that I once lived for over twenty years.
I totally underestimated the re-entry process. I thought it would be simple to go back home and be with my brothers and friends and things would be just as they were when I left. Part of that is true. Nothing really happened in Colorado while I was gone abroad. My brothers were still in school, my friends were still partying, and my cat was still tearing up my apartment. But I was/am not as I was when I left that ship. This trip has transformed me in so many ways, sometimes in ways that I don’t even realize until later. I take nothing for granted anymore. I seem to be more conscious of my surroundings, what I eat, who I interact with, and what I do day-to-day. I am not as reliant on technology although it is almost impossible not to be when you are living in the States. I am also looking at everything I do with an open mind and think so much about those that I met along the way on my trip. I think about that man I talked with in South Africa on the train, the men who haggled me into buying shoelaces for $12, the young student in Vietnam who loved American music, the two students in China that showed me their art, and that conversation I had with the couple in Mauritius. I think of all the people in the world who have nothing and am so thankful that I am privileged with things such as electricity and clean water, things many of us do not think about. I no longer think about the poor in America, because the underprivileged here have so much more than those in Ghana or South Africa or many other parts of the world. That is one think I am so thankful for about this trip, the opportunity to free one’s ignorance and experience different lives. I think traveling really is a key to learning because there is so much more to learn from personal experiences than from a textbook in a classroom. That is why I am so happy with my major in Global Tourism and I can now see what I will be doing with my life when I graduate. I am also thankful to have had the absolute best professors in my entire education. Those four mentors were a hundred times better than any I have ever had at Colorado State. They taught me so much, but what I will take away from them the most is to be engaged with my learning. This was the first semester that I was actually excited to learn and go to class, much different than my classes at CSU. I am expecting to do the same when I take classes again this Fall, and I may find that my CSU professors are actually worth learning from, instead of falling asleep in class or not even going. I am actually pretty excited to start another semester to see what other things I will utilized that I learned from my trip.
The absolute hardest part to this adjustment is not being surrounded by some of the best friends that I have had. I have my great friends in Colorado, but they cannot connect with me when I want to talk about my voyage because they were not there to experience that with me. I love them to death but honestly wish that my SAS friends were there right by my side to help me through this adjustment because they know exactly what I am going through. I can only text, message, or email those SAS friends, and sometimes I find myself making loops and saying the same things over and over again. I feel bad for them because they have to hear so much about my problems when I am sure they are having very similar problems and would rather focus on them rather than me. What makes it even harder is that a majority of my closest friends live in Boulder, but most of them are too busy moving on with their lives that they don’t have time to go back to SAS, sometimes not even wanting to think about it because it brings back so many good memories that it makes it hard for them to continue moving on. I feel that I am missing out on something. I should have a steady job, going abroad, a girlfriend, money, a car, etc. But then I think of how lucky I am to have free time, brothers and friends that are always over playing games, and a mentality like no other. I guess I have a constant battle in my mind on being jealous and being selfish making it hard to find a middle ground. Also, the more I don’t think about SAS the more my memories slip away. I find myself reading my previous posts and remembering that I did this or that, which makes me sad because every moment on that ship should have been cherished. Although whenever anyone asks me questions about the trip those memories come right back and I cannot stop talking about all the amazing things I did. I did so many things on this voyage that more than half of the nation only dreams about, and here I am upset that I am not still going around the world. Should I be? I feel gracious to have had that opportunity, and yet there is this selfish part of me that wants to stay on the ship forever, although with the same people I traveled with. Another hard part for me on this adjustment has been the constant dreams of still being on the ship, with two weeks left, plenty of time to say goodbye to everyone. There are so many people that I either did not say goodbye to or did not get the farewell I was looking for. I feel so guilty and ashamed for not embracing those last days and treating them as such. I was so ready to be off the ship that I did not realize how much it would haunt me for the way I acted. I should have been up there staying up all night with everyone else, sharing many hugs, cries, laughs, and contacts. There is no changing the past though, and I can only move forward from this. There are specific people I feel I should have been with longer to say goodbye because now I it feels that I need conclusion. There is a void in my life without this and I am determined to try and meet up with each of them at least one more time, treating that moment like it would be the last time I would see them. Maybe I was naïve in thinking that we would all see each other again at some point, even if we are living close to each other. It is unrealistic when we all are starting a new journey, getting jobs, taking classes, or simply being occupied with their personal life. The most I can hope for is that I will be able to travel to all of them and be with them at least one more time to fill that void. So I want to apologize to Eleni, Jessica, Sophie, Kimmy, Brynn, Meg, and James for not being there to say farewell because you are the ones that made such a huge impact in my life, probably not even realizing it.
I guess it is really time to move on though. Yes, I had the absolute best experience of my lifetime and it will be very hard for anything to top this, but all great things come to an end, and eventually we all move on. What I have now are those fading memories, my blogs, and those few individuals that I will remain in contact with for a long time. Soon, I will be looking back on this moment and questioning why it was so hard to leave that ship and those friends. My life will have many adventures and with the career that I want to pursue it can be almost guaranteed I will be traveling the world again. For now, I am trying not to focus on the trip and trying instead to focus on what I have and who I am with. The more I do that the better I will be. This will be a long summer but I wish the best to all of you that I met throughout my amazing journey and although we may not always be in contact with each other, know that I will always have a special place in my heart and mind for you.
I leave with a final farewell to the Spring 2012 Semester at Sea voyage, thank you for the most incredible experience anyone can have.