Today marks the one year anniversary of getting on a plane to Amsterdam. Actually, today at 4pm marked the one year anniversary of me getting on the plane. At 2am (our time) it will be the one year anniversary of me calling my mom, telling her I made it. It’s unbelievable to think of all of the fear and hesitation and excitement I felt before I left, and while sitting on the plane, and when it finally landed 4,500 miles away. And to think it was just a year ago.
I was always sort of disdainful of the college kids who studied abroad and came back raving about how it changed their lives and forever altered their perceptions of the world. Yeah, we get it. You went to England or Australia or some other English-speaking country and drank yourself stupid and came home completely cultured. Not that my intentions were any different than theirs, mind you, but I would be honest enough to say so, without hiding behind a facade of “change” or “cultural experience.” So I went, and I drank, and I hung out with international kids and Americans, and I went out every night, and I had a fabulous time “studying” abroad in Europe.
And now that I’m back I see how much has changed.
It’s been rough at times. But they tell you that, in your monthly meetings about re-integrating into your home culture after studying abroad. They tell you before you even leave Amsterdam. They tell you it’s going to suck, that you are going to experience an upside-down bell curve of depression. That your life will never be the same, so get used to it now.
I don’t know if I would call it the bell curve blues (new band name, anyone?). Sure, there were times when I embarrassed myself after coming home. Like the time I freaked out and thought TGI Friday’s gave me counterfeit quarters because I couldn’t remember how it felt to hold them in my hand. Or when I turned twenty-one and didn’t know how to order a beer other than in 33cl increments. But other than that, I feel like I have for the most part avoided being that girl. You know, the “Oh my God the croissants are sooooo much better in France” girl. Probably due to the fact that I preferred the Albert Heijn croissants.
Sometimes I will remember little things and my heart gets a little twang. (Yeah, I’m from Missouri, even my heart has a little twang.) Like when I remember our Thursday night dinners. Or when I drink out of the cup I got on Queen’s Day, and think of how my friends have the other ones just like it. (P.S. Where did the matching pitcher go?) Or when my best friends build me a bike almost just like the one I had in Amsterdam. It’s those times that I feel a little nostalgic, and very loved.
It’s been snowy here in Springfield, and I’ve been wearing my brown, leather boots a lot lately. I bought them just before I left for Amsterdam, and I can’t take a step without thinking about how I broke them in during my first week there–one painful step at a time. And I know there’s a metaphor in there somewhere, but that’s just not my style. So happy anniversary, love. So happy we met.