About six months ago, I was well in to my second week in India. I wrote this post. Here’s an excerpt:
Like I said earlier, today’s been a little rough. I miss home. I broke out the emergency bag of Craisins–how sad is it that my comfort food here is dried fruit? I also realized today that the Rainbow girls intimidate me. They’re just kids, but I have a really difficult time being around them for too long. It’s emotionally exhausting. I keep thinking about how so many of them have experienced so many horrible things, and I just feel guilty and privileged. I mean, these little girls lived on the streets, worked as child domestics, and were trafficked as sex slaves and child prostitutes. I don’t know how to confront and reconcile those bad things, and I’m not even the victim.
I talked with the other ND girls about this, and Colleen said something really great. It’s neither practical nor helpful for any of the parties involved to try to compare lives. She also said that in any time of change, there is a period of panic and crisis that comes when we try to incorporate new experiences in to the way we live. Accounting for that adjustment is difficult. I have never dealt with change well, and this is a lot of change and a very different way of living. I came on this trip to push myself and broaden my horizons and all that, but I am realizing that I need to be gentle with myself now that I’m actually here, living life in India for a little while. I need to be patient and to realize that this adjustment will take time. I’ve only just gotten over my jetlag after 8 or 9 nights in Kolkata.
Today starts my third week in Rome, and I know one thing for sure: Italy ain’t India.
Rereading the India post made me sad because my writing made me sound so lost, so depressed, so lonely during that time. And I was. At the time, India really sucked, but I’m so glad for that experience because it gave me such confidence going forward. Even though India was difficult and challenging, I’ve been able to draw strength from my time there. Now, I know that if I can handle Kolkata, I can handle anything.
Having had such an extreme study abroad experience before coming to Italy was really valuable because it has helped me keep things in perspective here. I haven’t had any bad days (yet) because I’m able to celebrate the little victories that come along the way.
Going to India gave me confidence in my ability to accomplish, handle, and deal with whatever comes my way. I love and crave that feeling of self-efficacy that I get by trying new things and succeeding in my endeavors. In Rome, I’m learning my way around by exploring, and I’m realizing that getting lost is ok. Every time I successfully navigate somewhere or negotiate a new task, I get a little surge of energy and I feel capable and competent.
When I arrived in Rome, I called my parents. As I was talking to my dad, he said I sounded so different than I did when I had called on the night I arrived in India.
When I stepped off the plane in Kolkata, I thought, “Oh my god. I’m in India.” When I stepped off the plane in Rome, I thought, “Oh my god. I’m in Italy.”
Six months ago, I wrote, “I’ve only been here for two weeks.” Today, I realized, “I’ve only been here for two weeks.”
It’s all in the inflection.