People love to talk about culture shock and other similar things. The pains of leaving a place like Paris, a vibrant canvas to the grey drab of boring old America. But why the negativity? Sure its sad to leave, but there's a positive side to coming home. The positive side shined for me. I always figured, leaving is inevitable, at least I'm going home to California. Of course I'm biased since I've lived there most of my life, but I think California is freaking awesome. Warm weather and a vast diversity of of stunning natural landscape makes it a stellar place to both live and adventure.
My summer back home couldn't be more different from my year in Paris. Forget about the obvious comparisons, food, language, history. Transitioning from urban Parisian /European traveling a mix of suburban and outdoor California life seemed to cross more than an ocean or border, it was like being on a different planet.
The summer was epitomized by nearly absolute freedom. With a school year full of academic determination on the horizon, it was as comforting as a deep breath before a plunge. No job, no requirements to much other than myself. So I treated myself. I rode my bike nearly everyday, ate healthily, visited friends, family, places and restaurants nearly forgotten by a year of Europe.
I've always loved California life, yet didn't have much to compare it to. Now, after a year so far away I see it through different eyes. More appreciative, more exploratory, more spontaneous, more open-minded. More analytic too, its inevitable.
I took a week on my own in Tahoe, worked for my aunt and uncle's bike shop in Sacramento for two weeks, and traversed the Bay Area, investigating corners of San Francisco, Berkeley and the coast that I had never before remarked upon. My year abroad left me more adventurous, and California is ripe with opportunity.
Six weeks full of redwood trees, slabs of granite, world renowned cities, the pacific ocean and I barely scratched the surface. Next stop, Washington, another home, just as wonderful.