How's it feel to be back?

I feel so guilty saying this, I try and tone my answers down a bit...especially when speaking with other students who studied abroad...

Though I think living a year outside the country was really important, invaluable and a huge lesson in independence and life...and though I learned fluency in another language...

I am so glad to be back in California.

I really missed it.

The more I traveled, the more I knew, in the end...perhaps after many years of traveling and living abroad, I want to settle down in good ol' Cali.

I have a lot of theories as to why I (at least no yet) haven't experienced extreme culture shock. Sure, I'm sometimes nostalgic, sure, sometimes I miss (okay, often) speaking in French, sure, there was a certain laxness to life there that is not as pervasive here--though Californians are known for being "laid-back"...and sometimes that pervasive laxness is just inefficiency there anyway.

My theory is this though, I can always go back. I will, in fact, likely go back at least for a visit. Not only that, but I bring the lessons of my experience here with me to my life in California. It's also damn nice to be able to take classes that challenge me on a purely intellectual (non-linguistic) basis. There's a certain difference to working hard through a language, and working hard in your own native language. I'm just glad to be back to work. I've never enjoyed studying, reading and learning more. It's amazing how everything makes perfect sense the first time you read it...Not to knock my fluency of French, but difficult concepts like post-structuralism become even more difficult if you try piecing them together within a different language...because often you run out of the proper vocabulary to discuss what it is you are thinking. I found myself, especially at the beginning, practically unable to think passed rather elementary thoughts because of this inability to formulate the ideas within the other language. Frightening.

Also, unlike a lot of my fellow Americans, the living abroad thing was cool, but, not my first taste of exoticism. I knew and I know what's out there. I prefer it here (at least in terms of lifestyle), thanks. Because of my mess of a background, I suppose my main identifying factors over the years has been my religion and my nationality--because I don't quite belong anywhere else. I love being an American, even now, and I love living in the United States.

On another note, I'm really quite frightened about the avian flu's possible pandemic reaches...wtf is wrong with the world. Everything's going to hell.

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