Returning to the Norm: Life After South Africa


By Jessica Burkard — When I first returned to the United States from South Africa, I was in heaven as all of my friends and family opened their arms wide in welcoming me home.

Like any other adventure, I experienced a “honeymoon” phase where everything was great and there was absolutely nothing to complain about. But as we all know, that time of bliss does not last forever. As of today, I have been back in the United States for exactly 3 weeks, and I am past the honeymoon phase I initially experienced.

Something that I did not take into consideration prior to my return is that coming home does not mean that I am coming back to the exact same environment that I left.

As much as I have changed, the world I call home has also changed.  Once everything settled down after the first week or so of my return I began to see that friends, dynamics, and communities have changed as well. This discovery was a hard pill to swallow; I wanted to come back to comfort–come back to home.

In this discovery that home was uncomfortable, I found myself homesick for Cape Town. I once again found that I was searching for my comfort zone. I wanted familiarity, comfort, and my South Africa family.SAM_0921

Just as I started to get overwhelmed I realized one last thing that was key in getting past my homesickness: just like Milwaukee is a home, Cape Town is another home to me. Suddenly, I felt more at ease and even more blessed than before. This experience left me homesick for another home.  Rather than being sad, I finally felt comfortable.

Even though I am still constantly coming upon situations that are unfamiliar, I am becoming more and more comfortable being back in the United States again. It has become a new adventure of sorts. That is not to say that I don’t miss South Africa, I do, but just as I carried around the United States with me as I lived there, I will be carrying South Africa in my heart everywhere I go while I live here.

Thank you to all of my wonderful friends and family scattered around the United States, South Africa, and globe as a whole for the love and support. I could not be here without you.

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