I’ve been back in the states for almost three weeks now. It feels like far longer. It feels like I just got back. Reverse culture shock, despite the large differences in Thai and American culture hasn’t been as bad as I was expecting. I’m often disappointed when I see there are no hoses/bidets in the bathroom anymore (America needs to hurry up and get with it). I definitely miss the cheap food stalls, fresh fruit & meals for about a dollar. I consider almost everything way too expensive now, but I’m slowly re-orienting to prices again. Compared to the 95-100+ degree heat of Thailand, I’m also often cold, despite the Alabama heat that I know is on its way in.

I miss the friends I made in Thailand already, but being in different places doesn’t mean our friendship ends. Navigating with no language base there has made it easy for me to go ahead and book my first solo bus-ride to meet up with some of them for Pride in one of our hometowns. We’ve got hiking plans, dancing plans, and best of all I get to see their faces again! Going somewhere I’ve never been in the states on an unknown path isn’t as daunting as it once would have been.

Slowly, I’m starting to notice changes in myself from my time abroad. I’ve definitely become much more relaxed, more present as a person. Buddhist philosophy is deeply entrenched in Thai culture. Mindfulness, keeping oneself in the moment, is something I’ve always struggled with, but started practicing while I was there. From making sure I’m wholly present in daily conversations, to lessening my anxiety about the future as I figure out post-grad life, it’s something I’ll be eternally grateful I could bring back with me. I’m curious to continue seeing and understanding the ways that my trip, what I’ve learned, and the people I’ve met have changed the way I live and experience the world. Every time I go abroad, I learn more about myself and just how much I’m capable of.