Saturday, January 30, 2010

Wir sind hier!

... (we are here) - Back in Munich that is.

I have to say it's really a bizarre feeling to be 'home' after 4 months on the go, but for some reason home has become relative and this also feels temporary. We've grown accustomed to being transient. I'm sure after the jet lag wears off and we are back to our old stomping grounds it will be a good dose of reality.

We have stacks of mail to go through, daily life to get back to, and favorite foods to devour.

I'm looking forward to:

- cooking
- eating mass quantities of delicious cheeses
- admiring how wonderful our subway system is
- seeing what's changed in Munich (we even have a new subway stop!)

I'm not looking forward to:
- freezing temperatures
- missing friends + family
- not having authentic {insert ethnic food dish here}
- not spending 23.75 hours a day with Stefan

Even though we've traveled to far away lands many times, this time is slightly different, because we were gone for so long. It's actually hard to remember what life was like before we left. We grew accustomed to changing scenery, languages, cultures, hotels, and living even smaller than normal. While I am really excited about getting back to the normalcy of daily life - (you really wouldn't imagine how difficult it can be wondering how you'll get your laundry done or missing the ability to cook meals for yourself) we also face the trip return let down.

The challenges through out the trip were more personal and often came from unlikely places. Being confronted with how others live can be sobering, humbling, and difficult.

We often vacillated between feeling as though we could help save the world and as though the world's problems are immensely larger than us. We would jot down notes, quotes, and striking sites as they happened, hoping to capture the feelings and emotions we went through. Traveling constantly and for such an extended time made us work at not becoming desensitized to what we were seeing and experiencing. It opened our eyes to the intricacies that are unique to each culture and having a best friend to share the experiences continues to give us many interesting conversations.

After being gone for so long the culture shock becomes somewhat normal and slowly it becomes even more difficult to figure out our place in the world. It's not so simple to return home and feel purposeful or as though what we are doing with our lives is meaningful. The lessons on the road are immeasurable.

As we reflect on things it's easy to forget the sweltering heat of Southeast Asia or the occasional difficulty of frustrating your spouse. We have a good laugh when thinking of one of the most stressful periods of the trip - driving on the opposite side of the road, and hearing each other say one too many times, 'Hon, - uh Hon... I think you're a bit close over here' or dealing with a renegade taxi driver. Thankfully for the most part those were our biggest hang ups.

While living abroad is a fantastic experience it's not always as romantic and exciting as you would expect. The most challenging part isn't necessarily the language or cultural differences, but never feeling completely at home. One of the biggest struggles is the more you open yourself to other cultures, foods, and people, the more you have to leave behind and miss. This trip has only reiterated that point.

Traveling seems to give more answers, but also plenty more questions.

That being said we usually just quelch missing everything with discovering something new and planning our next adventure to have something to look forward to. We already have a getaway booked for Easter weekend!

Plenty of recaps and photos to follow. We have over 30,000 photos to go through!!


Jessica {lovely jubbly london} said...

Welcome home! Can't wait to hear all about it.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful review. Selfishly, I'm happy your back to within an hours time zone of me!

Lise said...

Welcome home. Looking forward to seeing the photos.

French lover said...

Awww <3 We were in Germany for the weekend. I love it there.

Bluefish said...

What an amazing adventure! 14 countries in 4 months. I so wish I have the luxury to do so :)

Emily said...

I'm doing my best to get the photos uploaded and backed up. I can't wait to share them - and the rest of the trip. I missed you all and look forward to catching up!

French lover...
Glad you got to come! Hope you had a nice time in Heidelberg and Strasbourg, crazy enough I've never been to either.

Make it a goal and you can make it happen! It takes a lot of time and planning, but it very well worth it.

JoernandAllison said...

You've never been to Heidelberg or Strasbourg? New travel goals possibly?

The good news is that you've made it through all that travel safely. I really enjoyed your travel blog, and can't wait to see what you do with it!

Welcome "home"