Kiev (left) and Ohio University (right) (Source: Google Maps – DigitalGlobe, GeoEye, USDA Farm Service Agency)
What is it like going back home after 15 months in the U.S.? I began looking forward to it the minute I booked my flight, which was three months in advance. I expected myself to be excited beyond all measure. I thought I would count down minutes for a car to get me to the airport, for my plane to take off, for me to see my dearest people in the world.
Immediately, I started thinking of all the possible gifts I could bring to different people back home. I even made a list to make sure that everyone would get a gift, at least a small thing (which I had to revise pretty significantly when I remembered the weight restriction on luggage – 50lb for a checked bag and 15lb for a carry-on).
But contrary to all my expectations, when the time came to travel home, I didn’t feel the overwhelming excitement I thought I would. I felt like an experienced business traveler who doesn’t easily get amazed at changing countries, but rather anticipates all inconveniences of a long distance flight. No strong emotions, just a fear of losing luggage (which has happened to me twice so far) and a wish to squeeze a 20 hour flight across 7 time zones into 2 short hours.
When we got to Frankfurt, and all that separated me from Ukraine was a three-hour flight, tons of different thoughts began to rush into my mind. Most of all was wonder over whether I would have reverse culture shock. I started picturing all the different things that might have changed during my stay in the U.S.