Kaylan Curvey, Contributing Writer
I’ve been back in the United States for a few weeks now since my nine month adventure through Spain and Portugal. By the end of the nine months, I felt that I was more than ready to return home. The last couple of weeks before my return went by fast. Before I knew it, I was on the last plane ride out of twelve headed to first Miami, then Houston.
Arriving in Houston felt surreal. Everything seemed so different, yet exactly the same. Everything looked so modern, and I was greeted with heavy traffic and the joys of Houston, Texas. Although I do have to admit, I was extremely excited to open up my closet and see more than five shirts and three pairs of pants to choose from. The first sleep in my own bed felt amazing! A good comfortable bed will never go unappreciated by me again. But it felt strange to wake up the next morning in a place that used to feel so comfortable. I definitely had a case of the “where am I?” syndrome. Driving a car for the first time in nine months felt pretty foreign at first. I thought that I would have forgotten what to do, but I guess it’s like riding a bicycle, and you never really forget. As I experienced all my material things as if they were new again, I felt a sense of appreciation for everything I was allowed to have. I say allowed, because I was not promised any of the things. I was blessed with them. I may not have realized it before, but living in a small flat with three other people in Lisbon definitely made me see it. I had returned home with new eyes, a new appreciation, and new beginnings.
This past year has taught me a lot about myself and others around me. It has taught me to be patient. It has taught me to be kind to others, especially those who can do nothing for me. Just the mere response of a gentle smile is worth more than any dollar figure on any day. It has taught me to be understanding of others, even if their beliefs, traditions, cultures, and understandings directly conflict my own. It has taught me to be open and embrace every offering – from food to karaoke at a Tapas bar in Granada. It has taught me to appreciate everything and everyone you have in your life, even if they are only here for a brief moment in time. Coming home feels like a complete contradiction. On the one hand, it brings me indescribable joy to see my family and friends after almost a year. But on the other hand, it is completely overwhelming how little everything has changed…but me.
I’m no longer the awkward, insecure, and indecisive 23-year-old that left one year ago. Well, maybe still a tad bit awkward, but now I own every little bit of it. The change I have experienced in the past year runs much deeper than any number. It’s in the way I look at things. It’s in the way I perceive my reality and that of others. It’s in the way I read, write, and speak.
Change is often a scary thing when considered as a distant ideal or something you wish to achieve. But when you take a look back at how much change has occurred within yourself over a period of time, there could not possibly be a more comforting feeling. 2016 was awesome to say the least, but I welcome and anticipate an even more fulfilling 2017 with new beginnings.