I have been home for exactly two weeks and 1 day. And the inevitable question I get almost every day is ‘what is it like to be back home again?’.
Well, here is the answer. It is weird, it is nice, it is horrible, it is lonely, it is great and it is just the way it is. After more than 8 months in Guatemala it was time for me to go home and to be honest, I kind of looked forward to it. I think all gringo’s in Guatemala will agree when I say that life in Guate can be pretty overwhelming and for some it might take a long time to get used to living there. Life there is so different from life in the States or in the Netherlands that I looked forward to my ‘normal’ life where I could completely be myself again. In Guate there are so many daily challenges that you don’t even think about here, like how do I get from point A to point B? Where do I store my valuables? Is this food going to make me sick? Is this place safe?
And now that I am home I – of course – feel homesick and I already start thinking about going back to Guatemala. I am already looking at flights and I already have a list of things that I want to do. But I also know it is good to think about the differences between Guatemala and the Netherlands to see if I can do anything different to make life easier when I go back. I know it will be a lot easier if I got my driver’s license, if I was fluent in Spanish, if I pay more attention to my passport and if I don’t get robbed the next time. It is good to take a step back, to let go and to start over.
Being in the Netherlands also has its perks; I can step outside and never feel unsafe, I have fresh air in my lungs again, I can visit my family and meet my brother’s cat Nugget, I have a house with central heating, I can throw my toilet paper in the toilet, I can drink water from the tap, I can go wherever I want and it is a hundred times easier to get a new passport (which I will get in 6 days!). Home is not so bad after all. And the most important thought that keeps me from the constant feeling I should be in Guate right now is that I háve to be home because in the next six months I have to write my thesis and sign my diploma. I simply couldn’t stay in Guate or I would have to do this year all over again and that would be a waste of time. So for now, I am exactly where I am supposed to be. And that’s a comforting thought.
But being at home is also quite hard because I have tons of people to miss in Guatemala, I miss the warm weather, the volcanos and the kids at the school. I miss hearing Spanish everytime and everywhere and I am afraid I will lose this beautiful language soon if I don’t do anything about it. I miss the game nights at the Wilson’s house, I miss Jen’s caramel popcorn (does anyone smell popcorn?), the inside jokes, I miss the gringa’s at the shopping plaza, the pink-orange sky in the evenings, worship nights at Access Church and being able to shut myself off from the world for a second without feeling bad about it. Being at home gives me mixed feelings. I don’t want to be here, but at the same time I do.
Like I wrote before, I have created an interesting world for myself and now I have to deal with thoughts, decisions and feelings that nobody in my family has ever had to deal with. It can feel quite lonely being at home, because the only thing that has changed is me. The people around me did not have the experiences that I had and although they read my blog often, they won’t completely understand what it is like to live in two worlds. When I got home, nothing had changed. Yes, I lost an uncle, my brother got a cat and my sister moved in with her boyfriend, but in my home, nothing had changed. My room was exactly as I left it, my mother made the same food, my dad still watches the news at 8pm, my brother still wears his sweatpants and slippers all day and before I knew it there was a pile of clothes gathering dust on my office chair. Nothing has changed, only me.
So, whenever people ask me what it is like to be home, I shrug my shoulders and say: “I don’t know, it’s quite nice.” Whatever that means.
The featured image of this blogpost was made by Mabel Amber.