I've been home in Madison for just over a month now -- the longest time I've spent at home since I left for MIT four years ago. Free from work and school, I had a lot of time to process the past and add some definition to my vision for the future. It has been a month of deepening relationships with family, re-connecting with old friends, letting go of a three year relationship and learning to love again. I spent a week wilderness canoeing in Ontario's Quetico Provincial Park with my dad, visited my beloved grandmother in Duluth not once but twice, realized what a truly amazing person my sister is, and became inspired by the company my mother founded, which makes its own brand of hormone free and organic whey protein powder for shakes and drinks: 'teraswhey'.
The whey plant by a pond in Reedsburg WI, and a canister of the final product. Fair trade chocolate, yum...
People often ask me what it is like to come back to the US after a semester in Cuba, or a summer in the rain forest of Ecuador. The answer is that I now go back and forth between developing countries and the US so often that I no longer get culture shock when I go nor reverse culture shock when I return. Instead, I feel like my lives in each setting, once so completely distinct from one another, have been merging. Four years ago, when I went to MIT, I filled the trunk and back seat of my mothers car with my stuff and found it hard to imagine how international students simply arrived on planes with a couple of checked bags.
Off to medical school in San Francisco.
Tomorrow I move to San Francisco, and instead of taking a car full of stuff, I am taking the same amount that I always take to Cuba, or Mexico, or Ecuador -- my hiking backpack plus a school backpack. There is a pillow, blanket, and sheet in there this time since I'm not staying with a host family, but the rest is pretty much the same. Why? Because really, it is the same stuff I need to be comfortable and happy anywhere, with slight variations for climate.