I’ve only been home from my study abroad experience for a few days, so I know that adjusting back to life in Seattle takes some time, but it definitely has been challenging, more emotionally than anything. My sleep schedule is off, so I find myself wanting to nod off in the afternoons, which means I wake up in the early morning hours and have to find creative ways to fill my time. I’ve also been experiencing some sadness and depression around being home, and feel a bit disoriented and unsure of what to do with my time. While in Italy I was so focused on other people and helping to contribute to the bigger picture, but now that I am home I have to focus on my own life, deal with things I’ve been putting off, and begin pursuing my deep passions and interests.
Aside from the issues I face personally, I miss the friends and connections I made in Alghero, Sardinia, the warm and sunny weather, and the vast number of stars visible in the night sky when you’re walking along the beach. I miss the walking around and exploring, finding new restaurants, and enjoying panoramic views from hotel rooftops. I miss staying out until 4am because we’re all having so much fun socializing and dancing with our new friends, and I miss the hospitality that we were shown from locals and the community members we worked with.
As part of our curriculum, we touched on topics such as white privilege, marginalization, and issues facing migrant and refugee populations. Being born and living in America was a lucky chance, one that many do not get to experience. This has been an internal struggle of mine, especially since I’ve been back home, as I am constantly reminded of the luxuries around me. I’m finding it hard to enjoy things at times, as I will begin to feel guilty about these luxuries when I know that others are just trying to survive with much less. We have more opportunities and resources here in America, and it can be a hard reality to sit with, but in one of our reflection letter assignments while abroad I brought up the fact that all I can really do is acknowledge my privilege honestly and vow to use that privilege in order to help others.
Something else that I’ve realized and accepted is that nobody really wants handouts and nobody wants to be pitied. I say this because there were times throughout my trip where I felt bad for those we were working with and their situations, but I realized that most of these individuals who have immigrated or were forced to flee their home countries, are fully capable human beings who just need resources and help from others in order to get back on their feet and be self-sufficient. Although my heart goes out to those we worked with and their oftentimes tragic pasts, I have come to realize that they have been through so much already that their current realities and their future experiences are probably nothing in comparison to where they’ve already been and what they’ve already experienced. Obviously hardship will fall upon us all and they are no exception, but I definitely have a new perspective on all of this, for which I am grateful.
I know going forward that things will fall more into place and will get better, I just have to be patient and take care of myself in the process. I look forward to finishing my degree this Spring Quarter and going out into the workforce to help those in need by providing them with resources and empowering them to be self-sufficient in order to build the life they’ve always wanted.