I'm scared that all the wonderful friends I've made here will forget me. I'm scared that I won't fit into American culture. I'm scared that all my friends in America will have forgotten me. I'm scared that there won't be a place for me anymore- in Yorktown or Charlottesville. I'm scared to go from a solid home here, back to the floating, constant non-permanence of American college life. I'm scared I will have changed. I'm scared I won't have changed. I'm scared for the culture shock I know will come. I'm scared to forget my time here. I'm scared to lose my Russian language skills. I'm scared to stop having something that automatically makes me stand out as unique and special. I'm scared to return to the land of instant gratification and constant self-absorbed-ness. I'm scared to go back to real university and study harder than I have the last 8 months. I'm scared to eat "normal" food again. I'm scared to lose my steady-ish source of income. I'm scared to leave my internship where I feel like I'm really making a difference. I'm scared to leave the city that still amazes me everyday. Most of all, I'm scared to leave the one place I've lived in my memory that I haven't felt trapped, the one place I haven't felt the need to constantly be planning my next trip, to constantly be looking to the future. In St. Petersburg, I've finally been able to live in the moment, to enjoy and appreciate now to the fullest. I don't know how going back to university- which is essentially just constant preparation for the future in the "real world" will affect my new outlook. I'm scared I'll forgot how to be happy to just be.
Of course, it's not all dread. There are certainly things about America that I'm looking forward to- seeing my family and friends, lower prices, never feeling lost in translation, every food option I can imagine, having my entire wardrobe, being academically challenged, etc...but it's not going to be easy. Yesterday I had my final baseball practice and at the end I couldn't help it, I just started sobbing. Of course I looked like a total idiot, and most of the guys on the team just felt awkward and didn't know what to do, but a few people I've become really close to gave me hugs and kisses and told me how much they'd miss me right as the sky cracked open and rain poured out, drenching us all huddled in tears and now mud...it was a perfect way to end what became my favorite activity in St. Petersburg.
I think this quote sums it up pretty well. If you've lived abroad, you'll understand this:
“So you look at your life, and the two countries that hold it, and realize that you are now two distinct people. As much as your countries represent and fulfill different parts of you and what you enjoy about life, as much as you have formed unbreakable bonds with people you love in both places, as much as you feel truly at home in either one, so you are divided in two. For the rest of your life, or at least it feels this way, you will spend your time in one naggingly longing for the other, and waiting until you can get back for at least a few weeks and dive back into the person you were back there…
To live in a new place is a beautiful, thrilling thing, and it can show you that you can be whoever you want — on your own terms. It can give you the gift of freedom, of new beginnings, of curiosity and excitement. But to start over, to get on that plane, doesn’t come without a price. You cannot be in two places at once, and from now on, you will always lay awake on certain nights and think of all the things you’re missing out on back home.”
excerpt from What Happens When You Live Abroad, by Chelsea Fagan