Coming back so close to the beginning of the school year has been an overwhelming process. After upwards of 24 hours of travel, my mom and I moved all of my things into my new house. I have a lot of things. I was greeted with a flood of familiar faces and things that I know so well but everything still felt kind of different. There’s comfort in the familiar, but I still find myself feeling oddly unsettled.
One of my housemates was also a fellow in this program, so we’ve been talking a lot together about India. It’s been so difficult trying to talk to other people about my experience and explain everything in an accurate and meaningful way, so having someone who totally understands where I am at has been wonderful. We tried to sit down one day and have an actual conversation about our time in India, but neither of us know what to say. Instead, we keep bringing up little details here and there, having small asides and glimpses into what we saw and felt. I think that because nearly everything in India was so different from my life here, there’s no way to address it all in one conversation. I feel like I can only explain the little details, one at a time to people. But no one can understand the magnitude of the differences or how all these subtle little changes compounded together into an experience that didn’t actually feel that different.
Words keep failing me. Looking back, I don’t really know if I actually processed or recognized everything I was seeing. I think there’s so much stimulation and so much change that I couldn’t appreciate it all at once. While in India, I found myself noticing a lot of the little details that were similar to what was at home, like the maggi noodles that tasted like ramen in the states or the trees that were the same as the ones in my grandmother’s yard. Now that I’m home, I have been noticing all of the little details that are different, like the milk and the queues and the busy streets.
Ultimately, I really regret not giving myself more time to adjust to being back here. I wish that I had more time to process everything that had happened and really figure out what I am feeling. But the academic year has begun, and school, work, and all my responsibilities are forcing me to think about other things instead. I have my pictures, I have my journals, I have the work I did there, and I have my intentions to go back. I am so thankful for everyone who has made this opportunity possible for me. I have a hard time expressing the overwhelming amount of gratitude I am feeling but I am beyond grateful for the last 7 weeks of my life that I will never fully be able to explain.