After a few weeks of being back in the United States, it feels like India was some type of strange dream. Arriving in the Saint Louis airport seemed truly unreal to me. I knew when I stepped outside everything I would see would be completely different from what I had finally gotten used to in India. I did not see the beautiful tropical plants, I did not see many people out and about even late at night, and I did not have the same incredible feeling of being somewhere new.
When I arrived home, I was extremely happy to see my family and friends, but I could not shake this sad feeling of missing India. What I quickly realized was how weird I felt about everything around me at home. In India, I had finally gotten used to the noises, the landscape, and how to navigate the city. After being home in Columbia, Missouri for a few days, I noticed how much I had to re-acclimate myself to my life that seemed so normal before. For instance, I had to get used to driving and walking on the right side of everything instead of the left. I had to get used to actually driving myself places, and not having to plan extra time to get there due to the traffic. I also had to get used to no longer having naan, chutney, and dosas (which was something I have been pretty sad about). Getting used to my “normal” life here in the States is definitely an experience in itself, but it made me continually miss everything about India.
In addition to all of the sensory aspects I had to get used to again, I also realized how incredibly hard it is not to see my teacher mentors and students every day that are back in India. Over the six weeks, I was lucky to build many strong relationships that will last me a lifetime. It is difficult for me to think that I will not be able to see these incredible individuals probably for a long time from now, if at all. I am constantly thinking about the students and teachers and how they are doing. Luckily, I communicate with my mentor and host teacher Roopa, and she always tells me what the children are doing and how they are succeeding. It makes me long to go back to India and wish my time there had not gone by so fast.
This year, I finally get to apply everything that I have learned from this experience. I am also excited to continue to share with my host teacher in India what we are doing here in our classrooms as she shares with me what they are doing all the way across the world. It is amazing to see how much I have grown and learned from my time in India. I have honestly grown in ways I never thought I would. No matter how many stories I tell, or pictures I show, I can never express to anyone exactly how much the people that I met and the experiences that I had have changed me for the better. I am truly thankful and blessed for the trip and the lifelong impact it has made on me as a person. I know one day I will return to India and experience the beautiful country again.
“Goodbyes are not forever, are not the end; it simply means I’ll miss you until we meet again.”