20 hours of flight time and an 18 hour layover in Heathrow later, I finally landed in Southern California- jet lagged, tan, and completely shocked at the stark differences between what I was seeing in California compared to the life I had been living the past four months. Despite the cultural reentry shock and the confusion of my body internal clock (still haven’t slept for more than a couple of hours a night), I spent the best five days at home. Since graduating high school, I have been back to California for short periods of times, never for an extended time, and always rushing away long before I fully catch up with my friends Every time I go home, I wonder if this will be the trip home that my friends will have moved on and the time that I feel completely out of placed. Luckily for me, every time I go home, my friends are saints- still welcoming, still willing to catch up regardless of how long we have, and still willing to reminisce on the good ol’ days while looking towards our futures. This time around was even weirder due to the five days at home as my conversations basically consisted of “Hey! Long time no see…Kenya was amazing-okay see you in December.” The feeling, though, of knowing that no matter how far I go or how long I stay away I will still have friends ready to welcome me with open arms is absolutely irreplaceable.
I think it will be impossible to judge the effects of studying abroad in Kenya until I have had time to settle down into a routine and reflect on how my personality and outlook has changed since studying abroad. In the past week, reality has been anything but that as I transitioned from a villa overlooking the Indian Ocean to a night back at Njema foraging for food in my empty kitchen to five days eating ethnic food and enjoying the company of some of my best and longest friends. The transition has not yet sunk in as a routine has not been established and I have no concrete plan as of yet (thanks to my time in Kenya, though, it doesn’t worry me as much as it probably should).
I am very curious to see what this summer will bring but I am infinitely grateful to the friends that I saw the past week whether from school, church, or the neighborhood that once again welcomed me with open arms and dealt spectacularly with my jet lag, disorientation, and overwhelming desire for all food ethnic. Thanks all.