Indiana University Overseas Study

Carla Sraders

It’s been roughly a month since I’ve been back in the United States and half the time it feels like I never even left. Hanging out with my friends back in Bloomington, my four months abroad almost seems like a dream. None of my friends here were abroad to experience it with me, and the people who I spent every day in Spain with are now scattered across the globe. Not having anyone to identify with, it’s hard to process being back in the United States.

Immediately upon my return I was ecstatic to come home to Buffalo Wild Wings and a comfy bed. Now all of my complaints and desires for American things abroad seem trivial. Sure I didn’t have fast food or cellphone service 24/7, but every day was a new adventure or opportunity to do something different. In Europe I felt like I had the world at my fingertips and opportunity was just a cheap plane ride away. I wasn’t stuck in the “Bloomington bubble,” only thinking about Greek life, the never-ending wait to finally enter Kilroy’s, Little 500, or Pizza X cheesy bread. Over 4,000 miles away from all of this, I was able to be who I wanted to be and learn more about myself. Coming home, I felt enclosed, caged, and hindered by everything in the United States. For the first couple weeks, it’s been hard adjusting.

collection of postcards

Traveling to 7 different countries, I accumulated quite a few postcards.

About a week ago, three weeks after my return, I received a postcard in the mail. The letter, postmarked January 19, 2015, was from me, Carla Sraders, during my first week in Seville. During orientation, some of our professors had us write a letter to our future selves, detailing our hopes for the semester and time abroad. Then, they would mail them to us in May after we returned to the United States. Honestly, I had completely forgotten about the postcard the next day, not thinking about it at all during my time abroad or even when I returned. Going to the mailbox the other day and finding the forgotten postcard, I couldn’t help but feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

On the postcard I had written (in Spanish of course), “Always maintain this way of viewing the world; with great opportunity for happiness, adventure, and perspective.” I definitely think that living in Europe and experiencing all of these cool things, to coming back to Bloomington, there is bound to be a lot of change. However, I hope I always remember what I wrote on this postcard – although I may be stuck in Bloomington or Indiana or even the United States for now, the world is always going to be out there waiting for me.

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