So, now that I’m home (and have been so for about one month now), I probably think about Venezuela every ten minutes (not an exaggeration). The good news is that I already have plans in the making to return for a few weeks in December. When I envisioned my study abroad experience, I honestly never thought I would want to return so badly. I thought it would be more like “Okay, so I’ve been to Venezuela, now where else can I go?” Now, I have that mentality, somewhat, but I can’t even explain how much I miss Venezuela. It’s like when you listen to those love songs and think about someone you had feelings for but it didn’t work (or couldn’t) for whatever reason, and now you just miss them and can’t stop thinking about them… Yeah, it’s kina like that. Except, I think about a country (haha, WEIRD). And, maybe it’s not even the country as much as the people–people that I have already had the pleasure of knowing, and all the people I have left to meet! Maybe it sounds a little cheesy and saturated with emotion, but it’s true! And, while I feel that it was necessary for me to come home this time, I have every intention of returning, and I have every hope of possibly going back to live for at least a year.
I don’t know what it is… but there is an energy down there that is beyond description. I’m not sure if it’s present in any other Latin American country, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it is–I think a lot of it has to do with the culture. It’s not anything I can really put my finger on, but I do know that here is very different. I mean, it’s not bad here, I love my country and (most of) the things we stand for… but it’s just… different. Of course, there are things about the good ole’ U.S. of A. that I’ve missed, but nothing really substantial… that is, substantial enough to keep me from leaving again.
After having gone all sentimental on everyone, I should probably at least mention a few things about the trip home. First word that comes to mind? Tears. and lot’s of ’em. The whole “going home” experience was quite shocking, to say the least. I cried when one of my best Venezuelan friends dropped us off the night before we left, and, well, I pretty much didn’t stop from then on. I cried that whole night until we had to get up at like 3:30am to catch our plane (which obviously means I got way less sleep than I should have, making crying way easier than it already it was). I cried in the airport at El Vigia when I said goodbye to one of my roommates, Lana, who stayed for an extra two months. I cried watching the coast of Venezuela disappear into the distance as our plane left Caracas. I cried when I saw the lights in Miami when we arrived in the states around midnightish. I was too tired to cry (after having spent the night in the airport with some other gringos) when I had to say goodbye to my other roommate, Sam, as we all went our separate ways. I cried when I saw the quilted patterns of the farmland of Pennsylvania when we came in for our landing at Harrisburg. I cried walking off of the plane. I sat in the airport and cried for a little before I came out of the gate. I cried walking into the bathroom to fix my make-up, and then again when I left the bathroom, prompting me to turn around and give the whole make-up thing another go. Then, I cried when I saw my family and pretty much didn’t stop until, well, the next dayish. Sometimes, I still cry.
Why? Well, there are a lot of reasons, but the biggest one, I think, is that, although I will be returning to Venezuela in the future, the experience will never be the same. And for me, that’s a little sad, because it was a good one. The up-side, however, is that, while things won’t ever be exactly like they were the first time, new experiences are waiting to be had! I suppose the easy answer to the question of why I cried so much is a.) I was really tired and b.) there are so many things about Venezuela that I truly do miss.
The first thing I did when I got home was post a video on my facebook telling my Venezuelan friends how much I miss them. And even though I talk to some of them almost every day through skype or Facebook, I still miss them now just as much, if not more, than I did then. The amount of fluency that I gained through my interactions with them is invaluable. I can barely believe that little miss “no entiendo” (I don’t understand) can now have a deep conversation with someone in Spanish that can last (and has lasted) for hours.
Sometimes, I feel weird that I think about them and Venezuela so much… I really wasn’t exaggerating with that whole 10 minutes thing. I mean, my goodness, it was just study abroad… I was only there for four months… but I can tell you now that Venezuela was only the beginning of a long-lasting relationship with Latin American culture and Spanish that I feel as though I waited too long to begin in the first place.
So, If you’ve been with me and this blog from the very beginning, you may recall that I said in my first post ever that I imagined that living in Venezuela would be somewhat like free falling, and that, since I’ve already done that, it should be no big deal, right? Well, let me tell you… while free falling was way more of an accurate comparison to my experiences there than I ever could have ever realized four months ago, Venezuela was still a big deal. In fact, I think it is pretty much the biggest deal of my life thus far. And because it was such a big deal, sometimes I still allow myself to become really sad at the thought of having to live here for the foreseeable future. Part of me also has the fear that as the days turn into months and slowly turn into years, Venezuela and its people will only become a memory of “that crazy time in my twenties.” I hope it doesn’t happen like that, and yet, I also hope that I can also learn to appreciate more the moment in which I am currently.
Fact: the balance between letting go and holding on is not something I’ve yet mastered.
Location: Lebanon, PA