On December 15, 2018 after finishing up a week of camp and laying in bed at site feeling sick, I boarded a plane (ok, actually 3 planes) and headed back to the US for the first time since leaving for Namibia in August 2017.
A few people asked me if I had any “culture shock” when landing back in the US and I didn’t. Sometimes it felt like I had never left the US – the last 17 months in Namibia had flown by. However, the two things that threw me for a loop was the prices of things (The USA is expensive, damn!) and being back in Target (but this one was a good loop. Target, I love you).
My vacation home was split into two parts: I spent almost two weeks at home in North Carolina and got to have my mom’s birthday and Christmas with my family. For the last week I went to Boston and also spent NYE/New Years Day there as well.
Being back in North Carolina was great. I didn’t get to see as many people as I had hoped to see, but that was understandable because it was the time of the holidays and people were, of course, busy with their own families and plans. But that’s ok! I still got to see people and it was nice to be back on a very fast WiFi connection so that FaceTime calls were much better than they are when I’m in Namibia.
One of my main goals of being home was eating food. The food I can get in Namibia is pretty great, but there’s no Cookout and no Pita Pit. So, in my opinion it’s lacking a little. It took me a few days to get my first Cookout tray of being home but it was so worth it. Cheeseburger, a corndog, hush puppies (that were shared) and a shake. Yes, please. I also took a 2 hour road trip with a friend out to the closest Pita Pit, which was so incredibly worth it. I ate Pita Pit a lot while in MS, so it was a nice throwback to the university years.
The highlights of being in NC was taking a trip up to Virginia to see my college mentor and friend (and meet her adorable baby!!!!), going to the Chinese Lantern Festival, hanging out with my grandparents, going to Target, drinking Cheerwine, and just being back with my family for a while. Christmas Day was a lot of fun and had a delicious menu. We ended the night by watching “Christmas Vacation” which still causes my grandpa to laugh so hard, we needed to rewind a couple of scenes to watch them again.
It wasn’t as hard to leave this time as it was back in August 2017. Then, I had no idea when I would see my parents again or when I would be home again. This time, I left knowing that I would see my parents again in April and knowing that my service will be over by October of this year (I do not want to talk about this yet – time is flying).
I went to Boston and it was my first time ever in the city. First impression: crap, it’s really cold. Like, really really cold. When I was telling people that I was going to be ringing in the new year in Boston, the first thing people said to me was “Wow, you’re going to be cold.” Thanks for the warning, friends!
It was a lot of fun to be in a new place, and I had a pretty great tour guide. We visited a lot of different parts of the city, so I got a great first time experience. We went to some of the touristy areas, ate cannolis (wow, that was amazing), toured a cider distillery, went to the aquarium (because fish are awesome), walked around Harvard (no cars were parked), ate amazing food, and had a good time.
I am so happy that I made the decision to go home for the holidays. Not all volunteers choose to go home during service. In Namibia, I feel like we are really lucky because we are in such a great location for travel and in my opinion, we live in a beautiful part of the world. However, I wanted to go home and see family and friends, and also to just have a hard reset to look to the year ahead.
2018 was a tough year – a lot happened. It was a mix of good and bad, but I definitely felt tired. So, being able to go home and rest and be around my home base helped immensely. And it also helped me get excited for my final year of service.