I haven’t said much about India or how I’m doing. Well, for the first time, I’m homesick. Not just for Nevada or for America, but for the people in my life. I miss my family and my friends, and although it’s been less than two months, it feels like it’s been a year. India is so amazing and there’s so much to see in Pune, but something feels out of place, and it’s me. I know it’s going to take me a while to adjust, but it’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I think what I didn’t realize about taking this year in India, was that it’s not just going to be me learning about a new country and a new culture – I’m learning so much about my self and I know that I’m growing along the way. Let’s just say that a comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there. Well.. I’m uncomfortable as hell and I think it’s okay to admit that.
It may be that the environment I perceive around me is an echo of what I feel within (or equally, perhaps, the reverse might be true.) I came in to this with some serious personal baggage which has been my focus since I graduated. It feels like my brain is constantly thinking and fighting and contradicting itself just like the place that I’m living. Seven months ago my life was completely different. My plan was different and my sights were set much closer to home. Now I’m actually living what I’ve been dreaming of and it’s hard.
This isn’t a vacation, I don’t know if I’d even define this as traveling. I’m not staying in hostels and frolicking and deciding all the sights I want to see, I’m living a real life. I’m integrating into an Indian family and learning a language and working at a job that I’m completely clueless in. How do you teach 8th grade kids who at 3rd grade reading and writing levels when you don’t know the first thing about teaching? I’m living in a hugely polluted and crowded city filled with insane traffic, slums and beggars I’m told to just ‘ignore’, stray animals everywhere that break my heart, and all these things that simply make no sense to me. It’s frustrating. And I feel like there’s so little that I can do to change anything. I have to remember that I’m not here to fix anything or change anything, I’m here to observe and to learn. It’s a hard mindset to keep.
I didn’t think I had a stretch zone. I didn’t think that I could ever be homesick. Hearing from previous Global Citizen Year fellows who had trouble had no immediate effect on me. In fact now I realize I think I judged them a little – in my dads words, I ‘basically thought they were sissies’. But now, I get it. All of the things that they were talking about are tangible now.
Last year I went to Finland I did not want to come back. Not once did I miss my family. I came back loving socialism and Scandinavia and hating America. I thought ‘I want to travel every second of my life!’ Now I miss the United States so much and I’m really starting to realize what a life I have at home, how different we live from the rest of the world and how lucky we are to live as so. I cry when I talk to my parents on the phone. I got sick all last week with a terrible fever and I honestly hoped I might get sick enough to get sent home.
But I’m okay. I’m not okay and I’m okay and I’m getting better and everything’s hard but it’s good. I am going to enjoy this hard year, this great year of growth, I am going to make it a good year. Wish me luck, wish me positivity more than anything. I feel good right now. I feel honest. This is going to be an honest year in a lot of ways. I can feel it.