On coming home after 13 life-changing months

by Kim on June 30, 2013 · 82 comments

For the past 13 months, Brian and I have traveled the world. 10 countries, 3 continents, and more experiences and memories than there are hours in the day to recount them.

Last week, we arrived back in the U.S.A. We’re here on our home turf until October so this isn’t a long-term return, just a three-month pit stop before we set out into the world again. We’re home to babysit our dogs while Brian’s parents, who have so graciously watched them while we’ve been traveling, set out on their own long adventure.

I have started and deleted this post at least ten times in the week we’ve been back. It’s hard for me to write about our return because I’ve just barely begun to process the thoughts and emotions that have come with being home again.

The strangest part about being back after 13 months away is how thoroughly un-strange it is. Mostly, it’s like we never left. The place looks the same, the people are the same, most of them are going to the same jobs and doing the same stuff they were doing before. This isn’t a criticism, that was me, too, before we left. I spent 8-years in a similar cycle, but it’s strange because everything is essentially the same and yet I feel profoundly different. I don’t quite fit into the place I used to fit so well.

back in Portland

Back in Portland, it’s almost like we never left

While we were traveling, the changes inside of me felt obvious, almost physical, like upon my return people would say, “Wow, you seem different.” But no one has said that. Mostly, when I see someone I haven’t seen in awhile, we just get to catching up. How’s the job? How’s your wife? How’s so-and-so? It’s amazing how quickly I’ve fallen back into the same patters with people. I’ve picked up my old roles right where I left them, I dive back into old conversations, I produce old responses to old situations.

I have no doubt that these past 13 months have changed me. What I haven’t quite figured out is how I can carry this change back into a world that hasn’t changed all that much. Perhaps this shift will be something that I end up silently holding inside of me, something I keep for myself.

What this coming-back period has taught me is that we must change ourselves. We must create change in our lives if we are to continue to grow and learn. Because a year is a flash, and five years is a flash, and life soars by if we let it. But this year of travel was proof to me that we can be transformed. That we can learn more than we think we are capable of learning and stretch ourselves. There is no cap on what we can do. We are so capable. We. Us. Me and you and the lady that cuts your hair and that guy standing on the sidewalk over there and everyone. We have so much in us. But we have to make the decision to change, to pull ourselves out of a rut if we’re in one, to leap, to dive, to plunge. Things stay the same, life takes the path of least resistance, unless we say, Not me. I will keep evolving. 

For now, Brian and I are in Oregon. Soon, we’ll hop back into our car and make (another!) cross-country road trip back to Ohio where we’ll reunite with our parents and our dogs and live for the next few months. I’m looking forward to unpacking our backpacks, sleeping in the same bed each night, and establishing a regular routine for awhile. Also: Mexican food. Coming home has thrown me for a loop, but there are a lot of good things about it too.

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{ 82 comments… read them below or add one }

Aurora June 30, 2013 at 3:02 pm

I, too, expected the same thing – that people would say to me – ‘wow, you’ve changed so much! you seem different’. But it didn’t happen, and soon enough it was back to the same old routines. And now, a year in, I’m still working hard to hold on to all those changes and keep growing. To keep evolving, as you say. It’s hard, that stretch is so important — good for the head, good for the heart.
Aurora recently posted..Glimpses of humanity

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Kim June 30, 2013 at 5:43 pm

Yeah, I suppose in some ways it is a nice reminder that, OH YEAH, the world doesn’t revolve around me. My year, my experiences, changed me. I know it, that’s all that really matters, you know?

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Rhonda June 30, 2013 at 3:07 pm

Well said. I’m sure you’ll get partially re-adjusted into life in the US right about the time you’re ready to leave again. But then, you did just say you LIKE feeling off kilter!
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Kim June 30, 2013 at 5:44 pm

I DO like feeling off-kilter. It keeps me from being complacent :)

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Jade June 30, 2013 at 3:18 pm

When I came back from my first ever long term trip, 8 months of constant travel on 4 continents, I was shocked at the gap between how much I had changed and how little home had. And I also slipped back in to ‘home me’ so easily too and felt that I should be acting differently. It took me a while to realise that the change was not a surface change of looking different, or speaking differently or acting differently, it was a case of thinking differently. When I came back my thoughts were bigger, they were bolder. I knew that the adventure I had just finished couldn’t be the end and that things would not just go back to how they were. My future felt different, and that is a pretty big change!
Have an incredible time at home guys!
Jade recently posted..Memory Lane Monday: A Tuk Tuk adventure in Ethiopia

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Kim June 30, 2013 at 5:45 pm

“My thoughts were bigger, they were bolder.” I love that and can see the truth in that (in my own life) already. You’re right… your future feeling different is a pretty amazing change.

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Sarah June 30, 2013 at 3:37 pm

“What I haven’t quite figured out is how I can carry this change back into a world that hasn’t changed all that much.”
^^^ THIS line.

I feel that way about every stage of life. I’m a well adjusted, friendly (mostly) adult who is comfortable asking for what she wants. But with my former high school friends suddenly I revert back to that quirky, awkward girl. With my family I’m the quiet one. With my former college friends I’m the overly-friendly, somewhat arrogant one.

I’m so proud of myself for the changes I’ve made, and there’s something infuriating about going back to those old worlds and falling back into old patterns as if the new ones don’t even exist. At the same time it’s almost nice- as if those improvements are the best possible gift you’ve given yourself that you don’t necessarily have to share.

Welcome back! Go forth and enchilada.
Sarah recently posted..Love is Love is Love

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Kim June 30, 2013 at 5:46 pm

Sarah. I agree! I also feel that way about the stages of my life: when I go home to where I grew up, going back to Portland, meeting with my college friends, etc. And I agree with the word “infuriating.” I’ve felt a lot of anger since being back… and I can’t figure out what the anger is towards. Myself for not better representing how I’ve grown? I don’t know… but thanks for this comment. I absolutely get it.

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Amy June 30, 2013 at 4:09 pm

As I mentioned on your Facebook page, I recently wrote about being home for two years after a RTW trip. Like you, I felt like I changed so fundamentally, yet home had not. I wrote something similiar about being home – the weirdest thing about being home was how not weird it felt to be home. I think you will find the big changes in yourself take time to reveal themselves subtly as you navigate the world with a new perspective. Instead of one big leap like before, the changes will manifest gradually with each decision you make. Keep in mind not everyone wants or understands the need to evolve, but by you quietly living your life with your newfound sense of purpose and conviction, you will serve as a role model to those who are looking to evolve and just haven’t found the courage how yet. Enjoy your summer home and welcome back!
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Kim June 30, 2013 at 5:48 pm

Thanks Amy. Beautiful comment and I know you are right, the changes will reveal themselves over time. Thank you. And welcome back after two years (!!!) OMG, I cannot imagine.

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Kim June 30, 2013 at 4:20 pm

Welcome back, Kim & Brian! I can’t believe it’s been over a year since you departed – it’s been so fun following along on your journey.

I so agree with you on how it’s up to each of us to choose change. Life does indeed go by quickly and it’s important to do what matters most to us so that we can hopefully live without regrets.

Best of luck on your next journey!
Kim recently posted..Life in Alaska :: Photo Gallery (June 2013)

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Kim June 30, 2013 at 5:49 pm

Thanks Kim. I can’t believe it’s been a year either. It seriously FLIES.

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Heather Sunseri June 30, 2013 at 5:54 pm

What a beautiful post, Kim! I love what you and Brian have done the past 13 months. You are such an inspiration.

I also know exactly what you’re talking about. I traveled to Haiti a couple of summers ago, and it’s amazing how a trip like that changes you, yet when you return, everyone else is going on about their everyday same ol’ business. But I didn’t blame them. I just wanted to scream, “But you all. I’m different. There’s so much out there we’re all missing out on!”

Anyway, welcome back to the states. Look forward to reading about your future adventures.
Heather Sunseri recently posted..A Quote For You Today

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Kim June 30, 2013 at 8:58 pm

Yep, I’ve had an inclination to scream that same thing a few times myself. Thanks for reading Heather.

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Sean June 30, 2013 at 7:05 pm

Welcome back to the both of you. I’ve thought the same thing on return from a life changing trips…”nothing’s changed here!”

Perhaps if you digg a little deeper, you will see change….yes, you both have probably changed more than most, but my take after doing this a few times is that things do change..just not everywhere, at the same pace.

Having said that I could be wrong! Either way, I love the reflection and you’re making me think more about it. I will continue to cheer you both on!

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Kim June 30, 2013 at 9:00 pm

I don’t think you’re wrong Sean. I know there has been change. But, like you said, just not at the same pace.

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Hannah June 30, 2013 at 7:25 pm

You do look different, and have done for a while now. I think you have found that ever elusive place of peace that we all struggle to reach within ourselves. It shines through in all of your photos, and in every word you write. People may not always tell you, but it is there. You have changed. Welcome home my friend, enjoy these three months. I know you are going to do wonderful things with them.
Hannah recently posted..An adventure by any other name

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Kim June 30, 2013 at 9:02 pm

Thanks Hannah :) We will definitely enjoy these few months. I know they are fleeting and it is a blessing to be able to spend so much time around friends and family.

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Heather June 30, 2013 at 9:18 pm

This will be me in September when we move back to the U.S. after two years in Shanghai. During that time, I’ve explored eight countries and have learned a great deal about myself and the world around me. I look at things differently. Yet, most of my friends back home are still in the same jobs, apartments, and life situations as before I left. I’m looking forward to our reunion, but am nervous at the same time. What will I say to the person complaining about their 30 minute commute now that I’ve witnessed the chaotic roads of Vietnam and China? Will I forget my life lessons and start complaining right along with them? It will be interesting to see what actually happens!
Heather recently posted..Snapshot: Laundry Day in Shanghai

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Kim July 1, 2013 at 2:11 pm

It will definitely be interesting. That’s part of the adjustment is hearing sorts of comments (like complaints of 30 minute commutes) and then thinking “in X the traffic is terrible, or whatever). It’s about perspective. But because you can’t really say things like “the traffic in X is terrible” all the time without sounding like a know-it-all, and no one really wants to hear about the traffic in X anyway, you just sort of feel like you are censoring yourself all the time. Or at least that has been my experience.

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Maddie June 30, 2013 at 9:54 pm

We literally just arrived home last night and as we were driving back from the airport Paul’s Dad was catching us up with any local news etc, he turned around and said “so basically nothing has changed in a year”. I think as Sean mentioned, we’ll dig a bit deeper to find the changes but it will seem so incredibly strange having experienced everything we have.

My biggest fear is coming across as a know it all and boring people by talking about my experiences. My brother-in-law who has spent a good 10 years travelling on and off warned us that the aspect of returning home that bothers him the most is that people generally don’t care what you’ve done. After the first couple of questions it’s back to talking about the weather etc. Gillian’s advice on this was great and you have to cling to your inner changes quietly and don’t let them be swamped by normality.

Plus, you’ve got plenty more adventures up your sleeve!
Maddie recently posted..32 travel adventures

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Kim July 1, 2013 at 2:13 pm

Yes, of course SOME things have change and some people have gone through huge transformations but, really, nothing changes. I knew I risked pissing people off when I said that :) Anyway, I’m afraid to bore people with my experiences as well. But I think you’ll find (maybe you’re finding) that no one really wants to know… so you won’t even get much of an opportunity to talk about them. Anyway, it is a strange balance.

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Patti June 30, 2013 at 10:21 pm

Maybe it seems a bit scary (for lack of a better word) that it would be too easy to slip back into the everyday after what you’ve done and where you’ve been? You know how in time travel movies – life continues for you but stands still for those at home? Does it feel like that?
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Kim July 1, 2013 at 2:14 pm

Yes, I think I’m scared in the sense that I’m scared that i won’t be able to carry the magic with me. That I’ll forget the lessons I’ve experienced, I’ll forget the sense of freedom, and I’ll just fall back into my old ways. That’s why it’s so strange and find that nothing has changed (again, some things have changed but you know what I mean) and that I’ve so easily fallen back into my old patterns.

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Peter Korchnak June 30, 2013 at 11:16 pm

Thanks for sharing, Kim. With only two weeks of experiences under my round-the-world trip belt, I have caught myself wondering, with some anxiety, what life will be like upon return (tentatively to Portland, in July 2014). But then I think, Hey, enjoy the present moment, and, from now on, thanks to you, remind myself that life goes on where I came from, too, and it’s all good again.

Enjoy Portland and your road trip!
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Kim July 1, 2013 at 2:15 pm

Peter, it will be the same! Or maybe not. I suppose you’ll find out for yourself. But enjoy your time, every second, it goes by quickly.

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Ali July 1, 2013 at 5:19 am

Ah, Mexican food…. I’m jealous!

Hopping back in your car…the same car you drove across the US last summer that was falling apart, that car?

Going back was weird for me last February, so I can only imagine how much weirder it is for you and Brian right now. Don’t worry about readjusting too much, you’ll be back on the road in just a few quick months, adjusting to that life all over again. Enjoy your friends, family and dogs while you’re there!
Ali recently posted..Balsalmic Vinegar in Modena: a Non Foodie’s Thoughts

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Kim July 1, 2013 at 2:15 pm

Yep, that same car. Think it will make it across the country again????

I have a feeling that just when we’re totally adjusted it will be time to leave again!

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Jill July 1, 2013 at 7:27 am

Yep, I know the feeling..
Write it all down, or it will drift elusively through your fingers….
Jill recently posted..Home sweet home?

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Kim July 1, 2013 at 2:16 pm

I am writing and writing and writing for sure.

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Wendy July 1, 2013 at 7:28 am

I see your change! You are an amazing person and will continue to be more amazing as your journey continues.

Dont forget that everyone else has spent 13 months going through things as well. And just like you, they may look the same on the outside, but are completely different people on the inside. It doesn’t take traveling the world to make change in someone’s soul. It could be the death in the family, a change of jobs, dramatic loss in weight, the birth of a first born, or winning the lottery (I wish!). Like you said, it takes you – the soul – and the will to change. Of course, not everyone is changing at the same time and in a few years it might be your turn to sit still and just be while others go through their own change.

Just something to chew on.

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Kim July 1, 2013 at 2:21 pm

Yes, I know that. And you have certainly transformed. This really wasn’t meant as a criticism. Just that things don’t change much in a year unless you TRY to change and even big events can leave people essentially the same on the inside. And that’s fine if that is what they want. I don’t expect everyone to change or to want change. I’m just saying that for me it is strange to come back to Portland where nothing much has changed (again, it has big-time for a few people but mostly it is the same) and to feel very changed inside. It adds to the shock of readjusting. And it adds to the fear that I won’t be able to hold on to the magic of this past year, that I will just slip back into my old ways. I don’t believe you have to travel or move around to change, that’s just how my change occurred. For others it happens in a million different ways, including while just sitting and being. It’s a change that takes place on the inside after all, and we can’t escape ourselves!

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Amber July 1, 2013 at 7:31 am

I think the hardest thing about coming home was trying to fit back into the old world. People would ask us about our trip, for about 5 minutes, and then move on. How do you explain 14 months of incredible experiences into 5 minutes? But, like you said Kim, their lives (in my mind) have not changed much, same jobs, same houses, same commute, same restaurants, but their lives have changed (in their mind), and I tried not to judge their definition of change.

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Kim July 1, 2013 at 2:23 pm

Yes, everyone changes. But I think we can all also agree that we go through years and years of very little change- I know I did. Coming back- I’m not sure what i expected. Did I expect the city to look different? People to look different? Did I expect not to remember how to get around? I don’t know what I expected but none of those things were the case. At least on the surface it’s pretty much the way I left it.

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Tracey July 1, 2013 at 7:53 am

No doubt, your feeling a bit strange and familiar at the same time. I have felt like that this past year too as I have also experienced some life changing perspective. I think if people could see through my eyes, into my mind, then they could see how I am different:) You are so right, we must make change happen to grow and there is no cap on what we can do. Just writing that in your post is evidence of your change, and sharing that thought is an inspiration to me and surely others that read your blog. What I take away is we all have the power in us to make change happen in our lives, to change our situation, to make our dreams a reality and that is pretty damn liberating, motivating, inspiring!!
Tracey recently posted..Sometimes, You Just Have to Change…

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Kim July 1, 2013 at 2:25 pm

Yes, it is pretty amazing that we all have the capacity to change. I guess it’s sort of annoying that it isn’t more obvious, you know? Like I should have come back with purple skin!

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Anja van der Vorst July 1, 2013 at 7:59 am

A lot of wise words and recognizing already in the earlier comments. All very true.

I travel a big part of the year and lead a different life then most around me. But a bigger change took place after I had a severe burnout, about 10 years ago. This changed my life and my attitude towards life, jobs, careers and ambitions profoundly. As a result I responded differntly towards my friends and family. Leading to many surprising dialogues. It also made me open for spontaneous encounters with ‘new’ people.

All this just to say, that inner changes WllL have an effect on your interactions with others and therefor on those others. And in that sense it WILL change your present, wherever you are.

You are just settling in. All the dust has to come down and land somewhere. Time will show what changed and how;-).

Good luck and enjoy ‘home sweet home’.
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Kim July 1, 2013 at 2:27 pm

I agree. It will be interesting to check back in six months and a year just to see how the dust has settled. I was attempting to write down my first thoughts at being back in the U.S. It was REALLY hard to try to sort my thoughts, I’m not sure I did the best job… but i tried!

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Ashley Darling July 1, 2013 at 8:15 am

My husband and I are back home after a year and a half of living in and traveling around South America, and I must say, I love it. The familiar faces and conversation are just so essentially… home. Though we are planning our next leg of the journey and will probably be chronic travelers for at least the next ten years, it’s really nice to know you can come back to the people and places that helped shape you and provided you with the opportunity to travel the world in the first place.

I find this piece interesting as it’s a subject matter I’ve discussed with traveler friends before and the sentiment is often shared. What I would like to add to the conversation is a request to be open to others’ boldness. When I first started traveling in high school and had my mind blown by all the the new sights, sounds and smells, my first thought was, “why isn’t everyone traveling?!” I wanted everyone to see what I was seeing and do what I was doing. It’s a great thing to be able to share those experiences. But, I’ve found, some people just aren’t that interested even when they are fully aware of what there is to experience. And that’s ok. My friends and family are working on their own bold moves that may or may not align with my personal preferences as well. Some are raising families, starting new businesses, renovating old houses and these are important and bold changes. I’m sure they share the same sentiment as you, asking “why can’t everyone see what a big deal it is that I’ve created a person?!” So, when you feel infuriated (as you mentioned in a comment above) and want to scream “I’m a different person and nobody is acknowledging the life changing experience I just had!” Then, you should remember that everyone around the world feels that way from time to time, whether they’re at home or traveling, and to take time to acknowledge their changes as well. Everything’s not the same, you just need to take time to really ask about others to learn more. I’m sure they’ll be happy to return the favor. :)

Loving the posts and discussion! It’s always a treat to keep up with your travels and read such honest writing.

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Kim July 1, 2013 at 2:30 pm

I’m so glad you’re happy to be back! The longer we are back the more I am loving it, probably because I’m getting more used to it.

The infuriation I mentioned isn’t towards “why can’t everyone see how much I have changed” but anger at myself for not being able (or at least not yet figuring out how to) bring what I’ve learned back into my “normal” life. I’m annoyed at myself for falling into old patterns.

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Jessica J. Hill July 1, 2013 at 8:37 am

Reverse culture shock is one of the hardest things to explain, partly because it stems from the simple fact that others don’t understand what you’re going through. I found solace in talking to those who had traveled extensively. They were always the ones who knew what to ask, and didn’t rush into conversation about their day to day events last week like so many people who treat your encounter as if you’ve never left. It will go away, but knowing that you’re leaving again will make it easier.
Jessica J. Hill recently posted..Bikaner, India in Images

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Kim July 1, 2013 at 2:35 pm

At first I didn’t think I was having reverse culture shock but the more I think about it I can tell that I am. We did meet up with our friends, who have done this before, the other day and it was great. The conversations was so easy and we could talk about all of our feelings of coming home without feeling like assholes! It really is a struggle not to feel like you’re coming off as a pretentious ass. Know what I mean?

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Traveling Ted July 1, 2013 at 10:13 am

Coming home after a week or two week trip can take time to adjust, so I can imagine how life would seem upon returning after a year. I remember I felt the same way after a three month trip to Southeast Asia. I felt everyone was the same, yet I was different and had trouble staying interested in other people’s conversations. Great to hear you will soon be extending the journey.
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Kim July 1, 2013 at 2:37 pm

Ted, we’re heading to SE Asia next! I am interested in other people’s conversations for sure… it’s just so strange! Ahhh, I can’t explain it. It’s sort of like, I haven’t had these sorts of conversations in over a year and suddenly I’m having dozens and dozens of conversations about work and houses and that sort of thing. It’s not like I don’t care it’s just taking some time to get used to talking about this stuff again.

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Justin July 1, 2013 at 10:41 am

Great post and great discussion here Kim! While I haven’t taken a RTW trip, I feel as if I’ve felt these same emotions concerning some of the things I’ve done. Just like Sarah, I find myself drifting back in to the same ol me in certain situations. Usually it’s a lack of confidence when dealing with people who I feel inferior to, but many times I have to say to myself, “Who does this guy think he is? He hasn’t experienced all the things I’ve experienced like x, y, and z, and he hasn’t accomplished the things I’ve accomplished like a, b, and c. It’s time for me to draw from the things that make me the person I am today, and to stop thinking of myself as the person I used to be.” This is an exercise I do somewhat subconsciously on a daily basis not just in my interactions with other people but my constant struggle to motivate myself to get things done and to achieve new goals.

PS: When you guys get to Ohio and we hang out I’ll try to keep the “How’s your job” talk to a minimum ;).

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Kim July 1, 2013 at 2:41 pm

Justin, I completely feel you! I’m sure that you’ve felt the exact way I do with some of the huge changes you’ve had in your life the last few years. And I want to talk about your job! I didn’t mean to imply that I don’t want to talk to my friends about what is going on in their lives… just that it is hard for me to express what is going on with mine and that it is weird to be back in a place that hasn’t changed (at least on the surface!) and feel like a different person. I don’t know how else to describe it besides that. Can’t wait to see you guys.

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Justin July 2, 2013 at 7:30 pm

Kim, I don’t want to talk about my job either :) To me there’s so much more (for good or worse) meaningful things to discuss. Primarily your journeys and metamorphosis and my recent increase in emoticon usage ;-).

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Kim July 5, 2013 at 8:26 pm

Yeah, Justin, about those emoticons… and you do an intervention with me on my exclamation point usage. (!!)

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Isabelle July 1, 2013 at 11:23 am

I got the same feeling when I came back home after an 8 months trip. You wish people would see how you are different, yet they are focused on their own lives and for them, you’re just the same person. It can certainly be frustrating at times, and a bit sad too because you would like a bit more understanding. But I think what I’ve come to understand is that this trip is about yourself and yourself only. You’ve grown, you’ve changed, you’ve evolved and what the others see in you doesn’t really matter, it’s about your own personal path to being a better person. And as long as you remember that, you will slowly adapt this new person that you’ve become to this same-old reality you are re-entering. Things can only be better, although not always easy!, because you now understand yourself better and will therefore make better decisions about your life. And eventually, people will notice the changes.

I was just wondering… Last year, before you left, I had suggested that you keep a portion of your savings as a special ‘splurge’ during your trip. Did you splurge on something?

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Kim July 1, 2013 at 2:43 pm

Isabelle, I completely agree. It is about my own personal path and the only person who really has to understand my change is me.

And about the splurge- yes! We did splurge. We actually splurged the last night of our trip. We stayed in a nice villa before flying out and it was perfect. I keep thinking back to that place :)

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Sarah Somewhere July 1, 2013 at 8:24 pm

Yep, its such a weird feeling right? I really struggled with both my trips home, a square peg in a round hole if you like. It is easy to lose yourself again, but looking forward to upcoming plans, refecting on your past travels and savouring the time with your doggies and family will see you through. I wish you guys a fun summer at home, it may turn out to be the biggest adventure yet! :)
Sarah Somewhere recently posted..How you do know if it’s right to make a change?

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Kim July 5, 2013 at 8:11 pm

Thanks Sarah. It is SUCH a strange feeling… definitely trying to figure out how to center myself and kind of find that when I need to. It’s a challenge.

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Turf to Surf July 1, 2013 at 9:33 pm

So great to find your blog! I completely identify with this post… change is one of the greatest choices life has given us. It challenges our perspectives and, in returning home, I see new things about the place I grew up or spent half my life. Mostly, it just makes me want to leave again. Which luckily I can do anytime. Having the freedom to move around really does change your outlook on life. Looking forward to following your future travels!
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Kim July 5, 2013 at 8:18 pm

Thanks Tasha, so glad you found the blog. I agree that having the freedom to control your own time really changes a lot.

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Katherine Jenkins July 2, 2013 at 12:38 am

Welcome back to the Pacific Northwest! I’m certain your journeys have changed you and will continue to change you. It’s an odd thing to come back to the familiar and feel like it hasn’t changed. In my case, I was gone for 10 years (8 in South Korea and 2 in Japan). When I moved back to Seattle in 2006, I had married a monk! In that time, people had gotten married, people had died, I’d lost touch with people, people had moved. So I started over in my hometown and took it as an opportunity to reinvent myself (an opportunity that is available to anyone no matter where they find themselves in life). After all the traveling I had done to far reaches of the globe, I realized that the greatest journey was the one I’d decided to take to myself. Now, anywhere I find myself, whether it is in a coffee shop down the street or on the top of Machu Picchu, life seems magical. All the best to you on your future journeys and enjoy all the familiar haunts of home!
Katherine Jenkins recently posted..365 Inspirations—182: Writing Coach Brooke Warner

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Kim July 5, 2013 at 8:20 pm

Wow, i cannot imagine being gone for 10 years! What a shock to come back!! You know, I’ve been back two weeks now and, while much hasn’t changed, some things surely have. I’ve met some friends and ran into acquaintances and things are TOTALLY different in their lives… so a lot does change in a year sometimes.

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Judi Ranton July 2, 2013 at 10:52 am

I think it takes a little longer than an hour of talking about your tremendous experiences for the rest of us to notice the changes you feel inside. We, or at least, I, have noticed a transformation over the year + in your writings – your style, your content, the feelings you evoke in me. You have definitely grown in spirit. And your time spent in the US or wherever is focused time, your life for now, in Ohio, with your dogs, your husband, and your words. Keep sharing, and keep growing.

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Kim July 5, 2013 at 8:24 pm

Thanks Judi. And I know that it takes more than an hour :) That’s why I sometimes wish that there was some sort of physical change (instead of the extra pounds, ahem)… but, you know, the longer I am back the more I am becoming comfortable with it all. It was just such a shock at first…

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Judi Ranton July 2, 2013 at 10:53 am

And I hope you get your fill of Mexican food. I doubt that SE Asia is going to offer you any selection of that type of food at all!

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Kim July 5, 2013 at 8:24 pm

Already working on it! Yep, I imagine the mexican food in SE Asia will be lacking.

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Scott July 2, 2013 at 12:25 pm

We did the exact same thing! The whole come home for 3 months to take our dog off my parents hands that is. The first few days I totally felt like I had outgrown St. Louis but after a while it started to feel normal again, thank god we had one way flights to Mexico already booked! Have fun at home, guys.
Scott recently posted..Pictures I Took Of … Lake Patzcuaro

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Kim July 5, 2013 at 8:25 pm

We have to book our flights to Thailand soon ;) We will have fun at home… so looking forward to seeing my family and doggies!

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Bethany ~ twoOregonians July 2, 2013 at 8:06 pm

I can relate to your sentiments, for sure… We each just do our best to carry it well, this emotional pack of life experience. So glad you two can be in the Pacific Northwest for a bit. Were the dogs ecstatic to have you back?? :)

Happy heatwave & (temporary-)homecoming!
Bethany ~ twoOregonians recently posted..Seven Years and Six(ish) Continents Later

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Kim July 5, 2013 at 8:27 pm

We’ve left Oregon now :( Heading back to Ohio to be with the dogs. We see them tomorrow! I’m going to take video… so excited to see them.

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Lauren @Roamingtheworld July 3, 2013 at 1:54 pm

Kim-
I’m in the same boat. I spent a year teaching in Spain, came home thinking I was gonna stay, returned for a second year in a new city and new region and now I’m back home with the plan to stay…
But I’m with you. Feels like I never left. Places are the same. A few new restaurants and cafes have opened, while others have shut. Some friends are around, others are traveling for the moment. But I return to the hecticness and urban sprawl of the SF Bay Area. I had never thought about urban sprawl until living in two smaller cities and a small town.

I’m slowly figuring out the pieces and next steps… how to keep defying convention and focusing on my interests rather than getting consumed by the 40 hr+ workweek and don’t have time for anyone style of life here…

It’s interesting. Same thing happened to me when I returned from 9 months in Africa traveling solo. It was a tough re-entry. Managed to push through and followed my heart to pursue my interests.

I know you’ve changed tremendously inside. It’s great you are able to reflect and see how far you’ve come and where you want to go, what’s next or at least have the flexibility to figure out what you want and dont’ want.

Enjoy Portland. Enjoy all the things you love about the city.

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Kim July 5, 2013 at 8:29 pm

I agree, it is so nice to have time to reflect. It is nice to see our country and city with new eyes. I’ve never quite been able to identify why I loved about some places and disliked about others in the U.S., but after spending so much time away I feel like I am closer to knowing what I want… we are lucky to have the time and space to figure this out, you know?

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Katie @ Swoon Divers Travels July 3, 2013 at 5:34 pm

We’ve been staying with my parents, who picked us up from the airport after our last trip. I was so surprised to find that they were picking up where old conversations left off, and also that a bottle of my nail polish was still on their kitchen counter where I left it!

I swear, it was like Freeze Frame! It’s frustrating, man.
Katie @ Swoon Divers Travels recently posted..How to Road Trip: 10 Tips to Help You Plan, Pack, and Rule the Road

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Kim July 5, 2013 at 8:31 pm

What?!?! That is crazy about the nail polish! We have seen our families yet but will soon. I’m sure we’ll pick up right where we left off. It’s the comforting thing about family and old friends, really, but when you go through something really big it can also be sort of… I don’t know the word… strange? to pick up those old conversations.

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Charlie July 3, 2013 at 7:45 pm

It really is the strangest feeling coming home. Things feel so foreign and so familiar all at once. It’S amazing how little things change in a year, two years, five years.

When I came back from travelling the first time, after the initial “wow, you’re home! Tell us everything!” things pretty much went back to how they were before. People just accept that you’re home but for the person who has just come back from seeing the world it’s a hard adjustment slipping back into “normal” life. It doesn’t take long for routine to set in though!

“But we have to make the decision to change, to pull ourselves out of a rut if we’re in one, to leap, to dive, to plunge. Things stay the same, life takes the path of least resistance, unless we say, Not me. I will keep evolving.” Love this line! Right now I’m on the edge of making a fairly life-changing decision which needs to be taken but it’s pretty scary. You’re totally right tho, life does take the path of least resistance, unless we change it. Needed to read that :)
Charlie recently posted..Top 5 Montreal Festivals You Don’t Want To Miss

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Kim July 5, 2013 at 8:37 pm

I’m glad that line came to you at the right time.

It’s funny because I think this is the first time I realized that, for the people we come home to, us coming home is just a tiny change in their daily lives. We’re here, they’re happy to see us, and then life goes on. For those coming back, EVERYTHING has changed all at once… so the adjustment is so big. I think that is where the divide is.

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TammyOnTheMove July 4, 2013 at 12:48 am

It is really weird-I recently went back to England (where I lived for 8 yrs) and Germany (where I am from). It was so lovely seeing everybody again, but at the same time I couldn’t get rid of that itchy feeling. I didn’t feel comfortable anymore. I have seen and experienced so much over the past 2 years that it difficult talking about babys who can now talk or daughters who got an A at school. I was ashamed to feel bored by those conversations. Yet at the same time people felt bored by my travel stories too. It was very odd and took a while. I was glad to be going again soon to be honest.
TammyOnTheMove recently posted..Stormy celebrations in Sihanoukville

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Kim July 5, 2013 at 8:38 pm

They are very different conversations than the ones you have traveling, that is for sure! I love them though, and know that my friend’s baby story is the equivalent of my story about sleeping in an airport in Indonesia or whatever… just pieces of our lives that we are trying to share in order to stay connected. I hear you though.

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Amy July 10, 2013 at 12:20 am

I can’t imagine how strange it must be for you right now; it’s interesting to hear how you feel you’ve slipped back into old patterns with people, I sometimes worry that I won’t be able to find common ground with my friends back home when I finally return to the UK. You’re right about making the effort to continue changing though – it’s daunting and hard but important. I hope you have fun hanging out with your dogs back home before you get back out on the road!
Amy recently posted..This is Not a Holiday…

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Kim July 10, 2013 at 5:31 am

Thanks Amy. That first week back, especially, was a real doozie. I feel like I am finding my ground now a little bit.

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Alyssa July 17, 2013 at 7:37 am

This resonates with me so much right now. I spontaneously moved to California after college and when I would come back to visit my small Floridian town everything felt very different, I felt different, and we didn’t clicked. But now that I’ve officially moved back and I’m here for an undetermined amount of time before my next adventure… well, everything feels almost just like it did before I even moved away.

I had to prepare myself to be in this environment for a while and to be among these people, to click and to blend. It does kind of feel like I’m keeping something within me silent but I think that’s okay for now… I’m just trying to have a positive attitude while I’m here because I do have a lot to be grateful for. I think I’m going to send you a ‘Dear Life’ submission. Thanks for reminding me to actually take time with those thoughts!

I just found your blog after starting my own recently; it’s wonderful!
I’ve decided to WWOOF next summer!
Alyssa recently posted..Home and the Unknown

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Kim July 17, 2013 at 8:48 am

I would love for you to send a Dear Life submission. I can’t wait to read it. And yay for WWOOFing. I want to do that myself someday.

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Karina July 20, 2013 at 7:43 pm

Like everyone else, I soooo relate to this post!!! I’m so glad I came across it! I’m working and living in Paris part-time for my American company as we try to grow our international business, it’s a new thing we’re trying and I’m in charge of it. I have a home in Paris and spent my first three months there, I’ve been back only since June now to the States.

Part of my job entails traveling to visit customers. I was all over Europe and Australia in those three months, meeting people, speaking different languages, and enjoying every life lesson and opportunity to learn that comes with it.

When I got back, everyone said “Welcome home!” but I didn’t feel home anymore! I felt like home was wherever I was, and I wasn’t ready to come back. I had changed so much, but everyone else had stayed the same! Of course they had stayed the same, they had not the experiences I had, how could they relate at all?

I felt lonely and isolated, how can you again relate to people when your life has been profoundly changed? Luckily I have a great support system in my mother, who has traveled the world and instilled in me that curiosity.

Thank you for this post, it made me feel not so alone with my feelings!

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Kim July 21, 2013 at 8:21 am

Hi Karina, how wonderful that you were living in Paris. It is one of my favorite cities :) I’m glad this post left you feeling less alone. I think it is something we all go through when we’ve had these huge, life-changing experiences and then come back to a place that hasn’t changed much. I suppose it is just another process of the journey. Are you headed back to Europe to work again?

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Ruth winter July 24, 2013 at 2:35 pm

Thank you for this post! I’m approaching 2 weeks home after my first trip, away for 8 months. I have felt so strange about being home, resulting in me feeling quite lonely, travelling solo meant I hadn’t anyone to share this with.

But after reading your post, and all the comments below, I feel much less alone and like I can wrap my head around my feelings more. I prepared myself for reverse culture shock, and all the strange emotions around returning, yet it turns out the strangest thing, is the lack of strangeness, it didn’t feel strange showering in my shower, or sleeping in my bed, and I had prepared myself so much that this in itself felt disorienting. I also feel like my friends who have been so supportive through my trip, listening to my adventures and comforting my homesickness are probably sick of my complaints and don’t want to here how tough it is being home too.. which I totally understand.. but that increases the isolation I’m feeling.

But you’re right.. we make the change. I knew that when I was away, but bringing that motivation for change back into my ‘normal’ life didn’t occur to me. So thank you, I hope you have an awesome trip back home ans many more happy travels.

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Kim July 27, 2013 at 8:21 am

Thank you Ruth. I agree, the strangest part is how un-strange it all is. I hope that you continue to readjust back into life at home.

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whereisshyamni October 26, 2013 at 1:09 am

I’m back home after 8 months of travel and spend my days wandering the house from room to room.”…that we must change ourselves. We must create change in our lives if we are to continue to grow and learn.” THAT hit home. Thank you!

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Kim November 9, 2013 at 7:55 am

Ah, I hope the adjusting is going well for you. It is such a bizarre time.

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