I have been home for a week, and although I am missing Cape Town desperately, it is definitely great to be back.
When I stepped off the plane at the Newark airport (after stepping on and off planes for the past 22 hours in Cape Town, Johannesburg, Dakar, and D.C.), I was welcomed home by my wonderful parents, my smiling sister, and a gigantic sign reading “Welcome home Sarah!”
After eating a New Jersey bagel (boy, I missed those!), getting some Starbucks into my system (don’t worry, barely-caffeinated South African instant coffee – you still have a place in my heart), eating the delicious lemon chicken my mom made for dinner (and almost falling asleep on my plate, thank you 7-hour time difference), I began to share stories.
As I attempt to process my study abroad experience, some of the amazingly perfect moments that I experienced do not feel real. The memories feel like they happened in a dream – in a different world. And quite frankly – my experience was not only ‘out of this world,’ but other-worldly. Harnessing that other world – the Cape Town streets I came to call home, along with the people, my friends, my students – it is next to impossible. Trying to convey the precise feelings I had while living in that country of contrasts is so difficult.
But what I have discovered is that stories help keep my memories alive, and make my experiences real and tangible to me again.
I visited The (Wonderful) University of Scranton last weekend. It was so refreshing to catch up with my Scranton fam again. I loved hearing their semester-tales, and I loved sharing my South African stories with them. As I told my Scranton friends about the friends I made abroad, the silly jokes we played on each other, my mid-semester trip, my time teaching at Hlengisa, hiking, and all of the other aspects which encompassed my time in Cape Town, I felt my study abroad experience come alive again.
I look forward to going back to school next semester, ready to make new memories with my Scranton fam, with my Cape Town memories always in my back pocket.