It’s been a while.
At this point, I’ve been back in the U.S.A. for slightly over two weeks, and in my hometown for exactly two weeks. It’s normal, and disorienting to be home. Wausau is almost the same town as when I left it, with subtle developments in a few business districts and residential suburbs. There’s a new photography studio downtown, and the organic grocery store has expanded. There is (surprise) construction on a few highways in the Wausau area. There are new food trucks and vendor carts trolling about the 400 Block, and there seem to be more hippies and hipsters in this area as well.
Despite these minor differences, coming home seemed very natural and normal. By the time I arrived in Wisconsin, I was drained from difficult goodbyes and the only emotions I wanted to feel were the positive ones. I was excited to experience the joy of reconnecting with people, and I spent the next two weeks doing exactly that. Keeping in mind that I was enthusiastic about every reunion, and that I tended to engage in high-energy discussions with my friends, I did become exhausted. I ran on adrenaline for almost a straight week, and didn’t even feel the effects of jet-lag until after an entire week had passed on U.S. soil. I am still running into friends and acquaintances and the friendly, random strangers who are oh-so-American every day, but now I marginally contain my exuberance when greeting people.
After living in a city for a year, it’s obvious to me that small towns have a more relaxed vibe. Although there is plenty to do, especially if you grew up in and are accustomed to a “small-town atmosphere,” it’s always very easy to relax. I’m taking the time to do that today, as I’ve been a little busy before now. Since I’ve been home, I have traveled to Upper Michigan for a wedding reception, to Minnesota’s North Shore to watch a friend run in Grandma’s Marathon (she ran the half, but was still awesome), and this weekend I’ll be driving to Wisconsin’s state capitol of Madison for a visit with some friends. I’ve also attended several graduation parties, a public forum on the new federal health care marketplace, Wausau’s own free Wednesday-night “Concerts on the Square”, and a yoga class. It’s been fun (and important to me) to get involved in the Wausau community, something which is much easier for me now that I have the freedom and capabilities (at least legally) of an adult.
Although I’ve kept myself occupied, there has also been time for a few long bike rides and spending time with my closest friends and family. My dad and I have been watching Star Trek’s Next Generation series some nights, and yesterday my brother crushed me at a game of cribbage. We’re all doing some adjusting to being in the same house again for the summer, but overall it’s been a very positive experience.
Now to answer all those questions I’ve been getting.
“How was Bosnia & Herzegovina?” Well, how was your year? Mine was probably pretty similar, but it was also overseas in a foreign country. The short answer is, “it was a wonderful and life-changing experience.”
“Do you miss it?” Yes. Yes, I miss it very much and try not to think about it a lot because it makes me sad.
“What do you miss the most?” The people. My host family, my best friends, my favorite teachers, my random encounters with friendly Bosnians, the occasional meet-up with other ex-pats in the city, and even the indignity of being over-packed into a trolleybus with hundreds of (or maybe just about one hundred) people during the morning rush hour.
“What was your favorite thing about Bosnia?” Um… the little Yugo cars zipping around the city? This is one of those questions that I answer with something silly because I have about three hundred different answers.
“What was your least favorite thing about Bosnia?” Alright, that’s not a nice question. But I guess I would answer that the fact that there are still landmines, 20 years after the war, buried all over the country and still hurting people every year, tops the list.
“Are you fluent?” Hah. Haha. Hah hah hah. No, I am not fluent. But once I finish giggling, I should defend myself and say that I did learn enough Bosnian to understand almost everything and get by pretty well in everyday life.
“Is it good to be home?”
It is wonderful to be home. I’m nostalgic for the country that I just spent a year in, and a part of me would like to just get on a plane right now and go back, but most of me is quite content with my life. As much as I miss Bosnia & Herzegovina, I know that I will return when I can, and right now my life needs space for other people and places and ambitions. It was quite the ride, with more than a few ups and downs along the way, and I am eternally grateful to everyone who made it possible. I’ll be keeping up my blog to share my other various adventures, accomplishments, and random thoughts, but will not update it as frequently as I did this year. So with that, have a marvelous summer and best wishes!