Having spent an amazing 5 months in Sao Paulo, Brazil, the feeling of leaving was bittersweet. Bittersweet because of how much I wished I could stay and because of how excited I was to return home. My time in Brazil was a learning one, as I soaked up a new language, culture, history, and method of business. I also learned the difference of living in a developing country versus a developed one, and at times, that learning curve was steep. The experience was amazing, the people I met, incredible, and the memories I made, unforgettable.
However, after those five months to say I was majorly homesick was an understatement. We landed in the US airport, running around chattering excitedly in English to whoever we could get to listen, singing off-pitch patriotic tunes through the lines at customs. We marveled at the free waters, coffee refills, and grade-A plumbing. In the plane to Minneapolis, we stared out the window to the flat expanses of snow, so different from the lush mountainous territory we had seen twenty-four hours earlier. Meeting my mom again for the first time was an experience I can't even describe, full of tears and a lot of squealing. Returning back had me seeing everything with fresh eyes,enjoying many things I had taken for granted before Brazil. The sheer splendor of a Target Superstore had me gawking with awe, exclaiming over and over that, "It's just so BIG."
As amazing as it was to absorb the amenities of the developed world again, that excitement paled in comparison to seeing my friends. I stayed overnight for a week at the University of Minnesota, chatting with my housemates, distracting friends from finals, sharing pictures and memories, and doing my best to catch up on lost months of face time. I am not sure if I have ever felt so happy or so complete. I had completed the greatest adventure of my life thus far, and still had this amazing community of friends to return to. The homesickness I felt in Brazil wasn't about my physical home, but rather, the people I had left behind. The community that surrounds me here at the Carlson School is so unique and tightly bound that returning back was one of the best feelings. Because every Carlson student studies abroad, everyone understands my experience or is eagerly awaiting their own adventure.
This week marks the beginning of my last semester of junior year. As I run across friends in classes they eagerly ask me about my fall semester and make jokes about how quickly my tan has faded (rude). I am so very grateful for the opportunity I had, and similarly grateful that I get to come back to such a great school. As much as I currently miss Brazil, I know that this is my home, and this is where I am happy to be.