A welcome home party that comes with farewell

Despite the reverse culture shock of returning home after living in Chile for more than two years, I am grateful I made a pit stop in the U.S. before moving to Gambia for the next two.

Although life abroad can be exciting, there is nothing quite like being home. There’s nothing like mom’s cooking, hiking with your family, girls night out with your college roommates or catching up with lifelong friends at barbecues and baby showers.

When you live so far, you often feel like you are on the outside of everyone’s lives, an old distant memory. I’ve missed birthdays and breakups, weddings and new babies and all that’s in between the milestones that shape our lives. I wondered what it would be like to reconnect with everyone, whether I’d missed too much or whether we’d grown too far apart.

But neither the time nor miles seemed to matter. I reconnected with many friends and family and we picked up where we had left off, so to speak, and caught up on all our misadventures. When we weren’t swapping stories, the best part was to just be — like old times.

As my mom hugged me goodbye this morning she said: “I know you’re going to do great, but come home when you’re done. I still miss you from before!” It certainly is hard to be welcomed home and say goodbye in one breath, but I am so grateful to have friends and family who support my wild dreams and follow my crazy adventures. I’ll be back again before you know it.

–JDF

Photos from this summer visit: I know I am missing a few people, but it’s because we didn’t take a picture :( not because I forgot you!