One of the major themes of returning to one’s domain after a long period of travel abroad is reverse culture shock, and one of the things aspiring travelers want to know about is how re-entry feels and how to handle it, both on the practical day-to-day living basics and from a career perspective as well. I’ve heard several stories from other travelers feeling a bit nostalgic for the road and anxious to get back to work so that they could plan another career break. It seems that most people report without exception, that the career break was a success and they definitely feel a renewed sense of fulfillment with life and desire to work. While I don’t doubt that this is definitely a very likely outcome after months of traveling, I always get skeptical when I don’t hear at least one, “Never Again!” tale of woe and misery. However, I’m not here to break the spell and in fact, quite happy to report that yes, this was one of the best decisions I ever made. I’m definitely feeling the love that can only come from a sense of fulfillment with life and yes, I’m excited about planning my next adventure. That’s not to say however, that I didn’t enjoy arriving at JFK and passing through immigrations to continue leading the misguided life on American soil.
I was actually quite surprised at first that I wasn’t feeling as nostalgic or longing for the road as much as some other traveling vets have. As my plane passed by the familiar skyline of Manhattan and touched down, I felt a big sense of relief wash over and felt like I could finally loosen my grip on my passport. It was as if the thick yellow line telling me to wait for the next available officer at immigration was some sort of finish line that I managed to finally cross after my adventure in South America.
Sitting with my backpack I just fetched from the conveyor belt and waiting for my family to come pick me up at the airport, I realized that the reason I felt such relief and excitement to be home was that this was akin to a vacation for me. Try as I did to keep a positive attitude on South America, it did become somewhat tiresome at the end and I think this was the perfect timing for me to take a break from the continent for some “me” time and in my so called profession it seemed quite fitting for me to work eight months and take off for four.
That’s exactly what I intended to do and I spent the first week of my vacation in America indulging in all of the foods I missed, visiting with the friends and family I missed, and taking comfort in knowing I wouldn’t have to research or take a gamble on where I slept each night.