I’ve now been back in the United States for just over two weeks. It’s definitely felt like a lot longer.

The culture change has been an adjustment. In Poland, it’s custom to say ‘do widzenia’ (goodbye/see you later) when you leave any type of store or restaurant, and I’ve found myself having to fight down the urge to say it here. Going back home to the Chicago area before coming to Alabama was a nice transition, though. Because so many polish people live in that region, I was able to still speak a lot of Polish. In fact, when going through customs, the first conversation I had with someone when getting to the US was in Polish because the agent spoke Polish as well.

The most difficult thing has been going from a very low-crime country to one with significantly higher crime rates of all kinds. I’ve noticed myself a lot more on edge. I felt like this before going to Poland, but it’s the type of stress that you don’t notice until it goes away and then comes back, because it’s been present for most of your life.

Despite that, I am so grateful for the time that I got to spend in Poland. Plus, it really helps having friends who have also done semesters abroad and can relate to the transition.