There’s something strange about packing for home the way you would pack for a holiday, choosing what to bring and what to leave behind. That’s what I’m doing right now as I prepare to return to Canada. I’ll arrive exactly a year after I left. 365 days of traveling, living, and working abroad.
This time, I’m returning home with the dawning awareness that I’m not nearly the person I was when I left. As always, the places we go, the people we meet, and the experiences we have change us, and this year, these changes have ingrained themselves more deeply than before.
I’ve felt priorities shift, flirted with the idea of settling in one spot, but still found myself wandering as often as I can, stepping foot in new lands and encountering new cultures. As always, the friendships I’ve formed have been paramount in defining who I am and where I’m headed.
I feel as though I’ve finally found a place that makes me homesick. I’m not used to leaving for a couple of days away, and already half-yearning to be back at home, but Amsterdam does that to me. And yet, as I prepare for the impending expiration of my work visa, I face some tough decisions about where these next couple of years will take me. Choosing between a place I want to be, a life I want to keep building, versus a career path I want to chase with relentless enthusiasm.
So this time, going to my “first home” is an opportunity for perspective, to figure out the best path on which to proceed.
But while I’m looking forward, I’m taking a moment to look back on where this year abroad has taken me.
So far, I’m loving the ride.