Returning to the U.S. was harder than going for the first time. As my friend said, the novelty and excitement wasn’t there anymore, since I knew what to expect. Last year, while leaving, I told myself: nine months will pass by in a blink, how long can it be?
This time, I knew just how long nine months can be when you’re away from your family and your country.
When I returned to Mauritius for summer break, I viewed it in a way I never have before: I began to appreciate it more. Not because Mauritius is more developed than the U.S. – it obviously isn’t – but because the feeling of being in my own country, with my own people was one that no amount of luxury could give me in the U.S.
That’s not to say I wasn’t happy in the U.S. As I hugged my closest friends before going home, I fought back heartfelt tears.
Before leaving Mauritius for the second time, I knew that fun times awaited me in the U.S. I would catch up with my friends, take interesting classes and meet some incredibly intelligent and resourceful professors who’d be willing to help me and get to know me better. I was going to have unlimited access to all kinds of junk food again, and I was going to live in a country that I knew was simply breathtaking.
Yet, I just couldn’t bring myself to be excited. Because I was leaving Mauritius at the end of my summer break, wishing I could spend just a few more days with my family, in my country.
When I was buying lunch and a few essentials in Paris’ airport during my layover there, everything felt completely unfamiliar. I wasn’t used to the Euro, for one thing, and had no way to know whether I was getting my money’s worth.
But then I had my next layover in Detroit, and everything felt familiar. I actually knew the names of the restaurants and shops there. I knew how the dollar worked, so I couldn’t be fooled by exorbitant prices. I knew what to order when I was getting dinner, and when I watched the news on the TV at my gate, I actually understood what was going on.
When the immigration lady finished checking my documents, she told me, “Welcome home.” Maybe, just maybe, I can find some meaning in her words now.