At this moment, I’ve been home for exactly 30 days, four hours and 17 minutes – but who’s counting.
So really today marks the one month anniversary of returning to my home town of Adelaide, and my post travel depression (or PTD, it’s a real thing okay) is hitting hard. I was overseas for just about eight months and had the trip of a life time. It’s not like I’m a stranger to PTD, having experienced it before a couple of years ago when I came home from being overseas for five months. The difference being that the first time I caught up with friends from home during my travels, and that I was looking forward to moving out and starting university when I got home. This time nothing is changing. I’m back to living in the same place and going back to the same university with another two years left of my degree.
When you return home you have this fantasy of enlightening everyone with your worldly stories and experiences, until you realise that no one actually gives a shit (except for your Mum, she kinda gives a shit). I know there could be a lot worse things in life than being sad about coming home from an amazing experience overseas, and that I’m probably coming across as an unappreciative and overly privileged gen Y who has nothing else in life to complain about, but it’s not easy.
The biggest thing you notice is how much absolutely nothing has changed, yet you feel like an entirely new person. The people are the same and the places are the same – okay that’s a lie, there’s a new Bunnings opening up on the express way!!! Sometimes no change can be a nice thing as you can still recognise your home as the same place it’s always been, but it can also make you feel as though you never left. Everything seems to have just been on pause and while you were away having a life changing experience, the rest of the world just stopped completely. You begin to question if you even actually went overseas, but are soon reminded by your accumulation of clothes you don’t have room for and a bunch of ugly souvenirs – or is that just me?
I guess the hardest part comes when I’m alone and have some down time to myself, which I really didn’t have for the good part of eight months. I’ve always considered myself to be someone who needs time to myself and to be alone, but now it doesn’t seem to appeal to me as much. When you’ve gone from moving non-stop and being surrounded by like-minded travellers 24/7, the idea of a lonesome ‘netflix and chill’ day in bed just loses it’s appeal. I went from staying in a bunk room with eleven crazy fifteen year old girls at camp, to living in a dorm on a floor of almost 100 college students. The concept of alone time became almost nonexistent.
The question that I have been asked the most by far since coming home is the only one I don’t have the answer for: “So when’s your next trip?” As someone who hasn’t actually managed spend a full year in the same country since graduating high school, it’s a pretty justifiable question. It’s also a question that gives me great anxiety, not knowing what my plan is from here.
Organising my trips overseas has always given me something to look forward to and a way of motivating myself to get through the uni semester. I would become so occupied with planning my next adventure that I wasn’t really interested in anything going on around me that didn’t in some way involve me going overseas. While it also tripled my levels of stress – having to deal with uni and saving money at the same time – it also gave me a break from the monotony of studying full time.
After dwelling on these questions, I guess my answer is that I really don’t know. My plan for this next year is to take time to appreciate where I am and the people I am surrounded by. I know I will inevitably travel somewhere at some point in time, but I don’t want it to be the sole thing I have to look forward to. I want to finally ‘live in the moment’ so to speak, and not be waiting for the next chance I have to escape my reality.
Travelling and exploring new places is always going to be the thing that makes me feel the most alive, and I hope to some day turn it into my everyday reality instead of just an escape.