It’s a whole new world out there.

So much has happened and changed since I left America in 2012. A new, significantly bigger iPhone was released. iOS7 became the new operating system. Tablet computers replaced netbooks. President Obama was elected for another term. Snapchat and Vine became phenomenons. Carpool lanes became HOV lanes. My parents moved. My grandfather and my second childhood dog passed away. 3 friends got married, 7 got engaged, and 2 became pregnant. My sister graduated dental school. My other sister entered medical school, and yet another sister started the final steps to become a nuclear engineer.

I left the States at the ripe age of 22, just out of college and having worked in the hospitality industry for four years. I hadn’t left my parent’s house yet–the one year I spent in college dorms doesn’t count. I spent more time home than in the dorms. I did have financial responsibilities like paying off a car loan, medical insurance, and my phone bill. That makes me a grown adult, right? Maybe less than I thought it did. I characterized myself as this super independent woman, not asking for help and trying to do it all on my own. I was fairly quickly knocked onto my ass. I wasn’t nearly independent as I thought I was. No one was there to hold my hand. I couldn’t call my father or my friend’s boyfriend to kill the spider/cockroach/anything that crawls. Wait, you expect me to cook, clean, hand wash my own laundry, get my own water, and travel everywhere by foot?

I adopted a dog thinking it would be something fun to pass the time, and was just as quickly informed by The Gods that getting a dog takes MUCH more responsibility than I ever imagined. No, they’re not already house trained when they come out of their mother’s womb. They whine constantly. They want to be walked or played with at all times. They decide when it’s bedtime. Yep, I had passed those responsibilities off to my parents as well.

By the time I arrive back in the States, I will be 25 years old. While my other friends are progressing in their careers, starting families, and putting down roots, I am doing the complete opposite. I am trying to figure out where to go next in my life. We joke that you don’t age in Peace Corps, and maybe that’s partially true. Some aspects of myself are far beyond the years that I am, others never left college. I want to travel, spend summers backpacking through counties. I want to learn as many languages as possible. I want to see the world.

I’ve realized as well that when I return to the States everything will look differently. Showers will never be taken advantage of again. Same with running water, paved roads, fast food joints. I also know that I will probably never ignore the homeless man by the freeway exit or the one that sits outside Target ever again. Before, I was annoyed by them asking for money or for donations. It was a scam and I didn’t want to support it. But the fact of the matter is they might actually be unemployed or hurting enough to the point that they’ll go and try to get some spare change off of passerbys or shoppers who won’t give them the time of day. If you can spent $100 dollars on a trip to Target–which is very plausible and realistic–you can spare a dollar or two to give to that person. And if you still think you can’t, then cut out that expensive morning coffee and there you go, problem solved.

So when my plane touches down in three months, it will have a long time coming and waiting. I’ll get to see family and friends that I haven’t seem in over a year, and pick off where we left off 27 months ago. I’ll drive to Tucson to pick up my dog that flys out of Madagascar tomorrow, watch one best friend marry her high school sweetheart, and help another plan her wedding. I’ll reenter the work force, this time in human resources giving me an advantage for law school. And I’ll probably be planning my next adventure, in which I’m leaning towards going to Denmark and seeing the country my dad’s side comes from.

It’s been a great experience, and not over yet. Farvel, Veloma, and goodbye. See ya later world.

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