Holiday season came and went and with it went the post I had planned for last week so you get two in a week! This will be the second to last as I talk about my initial thoughts being back in the US and then I’ll wrap up with lessons learned in a few days. Ok on to today’s post:
You know the phrase, “If it’s yellow, let it mellow, if it’s brown flush it down”? (If not: it’s about the bathroom, ok cool got it? Great.) You’re probably wondering why I started this post with that, and I promise there’s a point. I mention this is because when I got back from Cape Town, this phrase was running in my head on a loop. The reason for this is that in Cape Town, because the huge water crisis happened so recently, there is still a large focus on saving water. When we arrived in Cape Town, we were told the phrase as a part of our water conservation talk and by the time I left, it was second nature.
Coming back to the US, one of the reverse shocks I had was just marveling at how much water waste there is. Before I went to Cape Town, I thought I saved water a bunch since I grew up in a house where my parents would be irritated if I left the tap on unnecessarily, but now after being in CT I have a very different appreciation of saving water. I’ve found it difficult to flush every time I use the bathroom because I can’t stop thinking about the 9 liters of water that are being used, sometimes needlessly.
This is only a single example, but it illustrates just how true the phrase “Abroad changes you” (which I used to think was a huge cliche!) is. I’m from another country so I’ve always had a different perspective on life because of it but my time in Cape Town brought different issues to the forefront of my mind. When it comes to the water, you’d think being a Californian would have made me more conscious, but apparently I needed an extreme to really learn.
Besides that, one of my greatest challenges of returning has been readjusting to the pace of life here. I was used to working 50 hour weeks (or more) since I work in sales, and being in Cape Town slowed me down a great deal. As needed as the break was, one of my ongoing challenges has been speeding back up. I have major projects at work I need to take care of, but have spent several days feeling almost groggy. I’m continuing to improve and expect to get back up to full speed soon, but still plan to create space for quiet and slowness so I don’t lose them in the fast pace of living in the US.
The other obstacle has been answering the question “How was South Africa?!” I’ve now opted to just answer “Amazing.” because I know people aren’t looking to have a long conversation and are going to smile and move on quickly. The long dissections of Cape Town I reserve for a select number of people who I know are genuinely interested. One thing which has helped a lot has been staying in touch with my some of my friends from Cape Town. We have a group message and when one of us has felt nostalgic or sad we’re able to come together. Overall, being back has been an adjustment but I am grateful to take my experience abroad and use it in my life back home.
This time around I don’t have pictures but since this readjustment is a journey, have a photo from one of our hikes.
Until next time,