Now that I have lived in the US for a full year again, I can almost say I feel like an American. Almost.
My year back, as a Freshman in college and an American who had been away from the US for my entire life, was difficult and exciting. But mostly difficult.
From day one when I had to introduce myself as the girl who couldn’t decide where home was, essentially because I couldn’t pick just one place, I knew this would be tricky. I began to miss pretty much everything about my previous home, Switzerland.
It was weird not being able to walk around at night alone and feel 100% safe. It was weird not being able to buy a bottle of wine at the grocery store. It was weird having to wait for the T that was never on time, or jump in an Uber when that got too frustrating.
All these things were really really different (and weird!), but eventually I started to get used to them, and actually began to enjoy them.
Now, I never walk home at night without a friend. I guess not being able to buy that bottle of wine is okay when you have a bunch of friends who will do it for you, right? And it’s kind of nice to be able to call a car to come pick you up rather than wait for public transportation. All these things went from weird and difficult, to normal until I returned to Switzerland a year later just to be reminded how different my life had become because of all these new things.
I loved arriving at the airport and not being able to eavesdrop on people’s conversations. I loved waiting for the tram to arrive exactly on schedule. I loved sitting around with my best friends, catching up on our lives over a bottle of prosecco. I loved going grocery shopping and not having a million different cereals to choose from. I loved walking around a beautiful city at night, without the fear of being harassed or put in danger. I loved watching drunk people get in a bar fight and throw their drinks at each other, rather than wonder if they would pull out guns.
I loved feeling comfortable, and I loved feeling like i was really home. I realized that all of those ‘new’ things I experienced never stopped being weird or difficult, they just eventually became normal.
Being back in Switzerland for the Summer was both a curse and blessing. A blessing, because I had an incredible time being home with my best friends. A curse, because now that I’m back in the US for another year at school, I’m realizing that I’m going through the exact same process as when I first got here a year ago. Don’t get me wrong, I love living in the US. There’s so many amazing things about it, especially being in a city like Boston, but it just isn’t what I know. It’s different. But I’ve decided I really like that nothing’s really normal to me and that ‘normal’ changes a lot. In fact, I love it. It makes life constantly surprising and exciting. (Just yesterday my friends had to tell me the rules of kickball after I got a whole lot of “but aren’t you american? didn’t you learn that in elementary school?” Result: we laughed about it and now i know how to play the very “American” game of kickball. Success!)
My advice: enjoy the new and weird. Enjoy it, laugh at it, call it stupid, call it exciting, and then when it gets normal, find some more ‘new’ and enjoy it all over again.