I’ve been back in the US for about a week now, and I’ve had a little time to reflect back on my last 4.5 months abroad. I feel distanced from the person I was when I arrived in Ecuador; the experiences and challenges I encountered abroad have changed me in a myriad of ways. They taught me just how much I can rely on myself in any situation, thus leading to increased self-confidence. My language ability, of course, has seen much improvement. I have acquired a stronger sensitivity toward poverty and socioeconomic inequality. I really appreciate the existence of Tillamook Extra Sharp Cheddar.
In all seriousness, though, I think I have an explanation for why I’m not sad to be back in Oregon again. Besides it being a wonderful place in its own right, Oregon is where my friends and family are gathered. For me, anyway, a place is made by people. Our towns, cities, and countries are not separate entities apart from the human race – they are defined by the people who live, breathe, and work within them. I have returned to the state that contains the people I hold most dear, and for that I am thankful.
They say home is where the heart is. If that’s true, then my friends must be my heart.