I’ve packed my bag for the last time, I can check my luggage without worrying if it gets lost and I’m writing this high above the Pacific Ocean while shooting towards San Francisco at an unbelievable 643 mph. My feelings are conflicted right now. On one hand, I am truly excited to return home and see my family, sleep in my own bed, and sing the national anthem daily (at least, that’s how I remember the States). On the other hand, this is the end of part of my life that may be hard to top. It’s odd being simultaneously excited and sad. I suppose this is what they mean when they call something “bittersweet.”
I feel that I’ve carried out my research project very successfully, and there are more research posts coming (if you’re reading this Dr. Civetta, don’t archive my blog yet!); however, this trip has been about more than the research project. I’ve been challenged daily by any number of hurdles: How do I get to my interview? What does this street sign say? Or what is this person trying to say to me? While figuring these out, I’ve missed my family and friends at home, made many new friends, and had hundreds of unforgettable experiences. I think I’ve accumulated enough stories to survive social encounters for the rest of my life. Truly, I could not be more thankful to the Circumnavigators and Northwestern for the opportunity.
Since I left Indianapolis nearly three months ago, I think I’ve changed in a few ways. I’ve become more confident in myself. If you put a stranger in front of me, I’m positive that, even with a language barrier, I can strike up some sort of friendly conversation with them. Drop me in the middle of an unfamiliar city without a phone and I’ll put my money on me being able to get back to my room. Give me a price in Euro, Liras, Rands, or Reals and I’ll shoot it back at you in good ol’ US dollars nearly instantly. Most importantly, I’ve learned how to “jump off the cliff” and take on a challenge. It wasn’t always easy, and it’s not supposed to be, but it’s been a summer where I’ve thrown myself into this project, and I mean it when I say, it’s been an incredible experience.
To those who have helped me along the way, thank you. To those I’ve met, I hope to see you again soon. And to those I missed, I’ll can’t wait to see you in a few hours.