I traveled almost two days, through multiple time zones, to get from South Africa to the USA. I am still battling jet lag. However, the worst days are over, given that I have been home for six days.
Deciding to come home to Oak Park for the summer, instead of doing a summer internship or program, was the best decision for me. I am spending this time getting reacquainted with American society at my own pace.
On July 2nd, I knew I was back in America when my iPhone connected to speedy WiFi at the airports in Chicago and Detroit. As I walked to my gate for my final flight, I realized that I was moving through space on the left side of the hallway instead of the right side. I suppose I thought I was still in South Africa.
My transition back to America would not be complete without Starbucks coffee, right? I purchased my first cup of the overpriced coffee the second day I was home. I also indulged in my first bowl of Chipotle that day. I was relieved in a way to see that everything still tasted the same. When I shopped at Target and DSW with my mother, I was shocked at the size of the store and the prices of items that all looked alike. This was something that never bothered me before.
In my neighborhood, I felt awkward walking my dog with my iPhone in my hand as I looked at houses that weren’t protected by barbed wire fences. Now that I am back, I realized that before I left the country, I had a distorted view of my socioeconomic status. But now I am aware of the fact that I live an economically blessed life in a comfortable home with my mother, brother, and pet. I have to admit, I do miss the exchange rate that I benefitted from in Cape Town, but I’m fine with living a simpler life in America.
Another part of my transition was the timing of my arrival. I came back prior to the most “American” holiday of them all, the Fourth of July. It was interesting to see how we expressed our nationalism with the colors of red, white and blue, fireworks, guns, and barbecues. I felt a bit of dissonance attending the local Independence Day parade in my city. I was more excited to see family members and close friends.
My transition back to America has been seemingly smooth, but it would not be complete without deadly disruptions. I have been back in the “Land of the Free” for less than a week and two Black lives have been taken by police officers in Louisiana and Minnesota. The terrain of my Facebook newsfeed has changed to reflect a collective mourning from my Black American friends. It is intriguing to see how not much has changed, whereas I have.
Tomorrow will mark a week of being back in the USA. I have already relearned and been reminded by so much in our society with my new perspective.
I truly miss Cape Town, South Africa. It became a home for me for the past five months, with all of my experiences and connections.
Thank you for reading my blog posts for the duration of my journey abroad. I plan to keep blogging about life back in Michigan, my senior year at Georgetown, and everything else that will come after.