The Feeling of “Did I?”

Sometimes, I can’t believe that I lived in Ireland for a year.

It’s very difficult to be here in America living everyday life, going from place to place, drinking diet cokes, hanging out with friends and family, and comprehend that I missed a year here at home. This place is the same as it has always been, and I do the same things that I did before I left.

Sunday mornings I go to the same church I’ve gone to since I was six. Those afternoons are up in the air. Sometimes I’ll watch NFL with my dad or I’ll hang out with friends or go shopping.

Monday – Friday, I work when I am told to either at the museum in LaGrange or with my dad here in Carrollton. I write as I’m requested and blog as I feel like. At night my mama will cook the same dishes I’ve eaten my entire life.

Saturdays are devoted to college football. When Auburn is at home, my family and I make the trip to Auburn, Alabama to watch the tigers play, and when they are away, we watch the games on TV. I know which big games are happening around America, and who needs to win to help Auburn move up in the poles. (Which, btw, if you watch college football, then you know we shot ourselves in the foot the last two weeks. :/ It is what it is.)

Then Sunday is back, and the process repeats. Life has been like this literally my entire life and as long as I am here in Carrollton, life will always be like that. It never changes.

As I write this, I am sitting in the same coffee shop that I’ve always gone to watching the same people get tea and coffee engaging the same conversations. College students study for the next exam, adults talk about the weather, and I sip on chia lattes. I look at these people and know that while I was gone, they did the exact same thing.

Then I get to thinking, when I was gone. I was gone. I did not live here. For 365 days I lived in another country on the other side of the Atlantic, but because life is the same here in Carrollton as it was when I left, I don’t feel like I was ever gone. My friends had experiences that I was not apart of as I did in Ireland that they were not apart of, yet when I came home, we resumed the same trips to Applebee’s and gossiping at each other’s houses.

I have to consciously remind myself that I lived in Ireland because it doesn’t feel like I did.

Life is so simple here. It doesn’t change and never will. The feeling of “did I live abroad” is a very real one.

I know I have been greatly affected by my time abroad. I look at the world differently. I’ve had experiences that can only be explained by living in Ireland, but I don’t always remember that I lived abroad. It’s weird.

Maybe the way I’m explaining this doesn’t make sense. I can’t seem to make sense of it in my head. But I do know that sometimes I forget that I lived abroad because I am here in my hometown that has not and will not change. Life carries on just as it always has.

I’m the one that’s changed.

But I don’t always even remember that.

Sorry for the weird circular rant post thing I’ve just done. Y’all know that I am a very honest writer and don’t hide very much from y’all. If this made sense to anyone, please let me know. It doesn’t even really make sense to me.

29 thoughts on “The Feeling of “Did I?”

  1. It makes sense to me. I lived in Mexico for three years and since I’ve been back I sometimes wonder did that really happen. But what I do know is I was profoundly affected by my expat living. While Chicago has not changed much – I have changed immensely.

      1. Sometimes, it’s even harder to transition back to the life you had before you moved away. Kinda like a reverse culture shock. But eventually, you’ll find a way to integrate all the pieces of you 🙂

  2. Hi,
    I was in Ireland this year, May-October. And absolutely fell in love as well.
    I’ve kept up with your blog because I love seeing the same things I did and hearing about things that I can’t find words to describe to my friends here in America. (If that makes any sense)
    This post right here is exactly how I feel. It’s as if it was all a dream. Did Ireland really happen? Because being back in America, everything seems the same as it did when I left.
    I miss Ireland so much.
    So thank you for this blog. I really do appreciate everything you post about Ireland, about traveling, about living.

      1. I should have written a more sensitive comment. I know you didn’t want to leave. Do you have any plans in the works to move abroad again at a later stage?

      2. No no no! Youre just fine! 🙂 life is what it is and thats all it can be. It is our job to make the best out of every situation. Sometimes it is difficult for me to remeber that. I do have some plans in the book, but Im not ready to release them quite yet. Still some research to do ans budgeting. BUT! I will say this: I wont be in Carrollton for too terribly much longer ;). Now its just a matter of dealing with home while Im here haha

  3. I understand you completely, as I am currently going through the same experience. My ‘Ireland’ is the Netherlands and my home, my familiar, is actually Ireland. Living abroad has changed me. It has opened my eyes to different cultures, new opinions and just new ways of being. Now that I am home, I am using my experiences abroad to really appreciate my home country; to explore and to try and see it through changed but more wordly educated eyes. I too feel like living in the Netherlands was somewhat of a dream – I yearn to be back there – but until I can return, I intend on making the most of my time and home, and rediscovering the familiar!

    1. Thank you Charlene!!! 🙂 You’re so lucky that you have Ireland to go home too. haha I’m indescribably jealous lol You’re pictures and stories from the Netherlands is just like me form Ireland. We’ll get back to our second homes someday. Until then, we’ll have to, like you said, look at home with our changed eyes and appreciate it 🙂

  4. I totally get it. I am not sure I will be able to live in the US again (at least not for a while). While I still do the same things day-to-day here, I am doing them in Oman, not in the US, and somehow that makes it all better. Being somewhere else is magical. I hope you manage to remember your experiences, even if you just meditate on them daily or something. Or you could always go somewhere else :-).

  5. So you’re back in the US now! We haven’t been able to keep up with what our blogger pals are all up to because we were on our Camino for 6 weeks. So we have been back in Australia ourselves for almost a month now and playing catch up…. The last we heard, your time was winding down in Ireland.

    We totally get you. Even though, we were only gone for a third of what you did. We come back and forget that we were the ones that had the adventure while life back home has continued the same way it did before we left. It’s almost like we expect things to be soooo different but it’s not! Have no idea if we are making any sense in this comment, but what we basically want to say is you don’t need to apologise for this post, it makes total sense 🙂

    Anyway, enough of our rant – must be good to see the family and friends again though. That is what we missed the most and were so happy to have back when we arrived home.

    So where to next??

    1. Hey Y’all!! 🙂 Yes, I’m back in America now. I loved following y’all’s trek! GREAT photos and videos!

      It’s so great having such wonderful support from everyone in this time of transition. It’s weird. I knew it would be, but you can’t ever really prepare for it. All you can do is make it through as you go.

      I don’t mind everyone’s rants. Everyone needs to rant every now and again. 😉

      There is a “where to next,” but I’m not ready to share that just yet!! When it comes out though, I’ll be sure to post it on my blog first of course. 😉

  6. It makes sense to me, not weird. I live in Saudi Arabia (yes, that’s right), six years now and I felt like I’ve never been away from home.

    1. Saudi Arabia is SO pretty!! I love all of the pictures and stories people post of it! Rich with so much culture. Six years away and to not feel like you ever left!? How did you manage that?

      1. I have no idea really of how I do it. I just felt I’ve never been away from home. I got to visit my hometown once in a year though.

  7. I was going to reassure you that it makes sense, but I read the comments from so many others who have done that already. The blog post was written kind of like your life so far. Home then away, then home again. I imagine you will go somewhere again in the not so distant future. For now, you can use what you learned to connect with other internationals in your area. And in Atlanta you can find some great international connections. I haven’t lived in GA for 20 years, but when I did, my room mate was from Puerto Rico. I learned so much from her! Keep writing. It helps you sort things out, and feel normal, but I doubt you have much problem with that. You seem seem to have a very good head on your shoulders.

    1. Thank you so much! 🙂 That really means a lot. I’ve got some great connections here that could easily put me back in the international mix with people from all over, and I think I may pull that Ace soon.

      As for going somewhere again, we’ll all just have to wait and seeeeeee 😉

  8. I think this is something that everyone experiences when they return home from a long trip. When I first got back I really struggled because nobody seemed very interested in hearing about my *amazing* trip (turns out it’s not that exciting to everyone else!) What really helped me was linking up with like-minded people in the travel community and I now go to regular meet-ups and take part in Twitter chats which help me to reminisce about my travels and remind myself that it really did happen!

    1. Ah!! That is exactly why I LOVE blogging!!! Everyone has shown me such great love and support here on this one post. That’s not including all of the others that people have embraced me on. It so reassuring to know that y’all understand where I am coming from and that I’m not acting overly selfish or crazy. Words cannot describe how thankful I am for y’all. 🙂

  9. We want so much to show everyone how it is to live abroad and how much we’ve grown and learned, but like someone else mentioned above, they have bills to pay, exams to study for, they don’t care much for the amazing adventures you or I have had (not in a mean way, of course) :-). I hope your future plans work out soon, good luck!

  10. This is a great post. Very interesting to hear about the “repatriation” process as I know it can be as complicated as expatriation! Good luck settling back in 🙂

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