We often say that a common disconnect in returning home is that the traveler can feel so different inside, filled with new experiences and perspectives, but their old surroundings still seem the same. You may find that just as you have changed, so has the context of your home. And in those changes, we encourage you to practice caution, patience, and compassion with your loved ones.
Caution because this pandemic absolutely demands it. Follow health protocols not only for your own safety, but also for the safety of your community. You may not be in a high risk demographic; however, your behaviors can determine the level of risk posed to those around you. Don’t take it personally if loved ones are intentionally distant from you, or even a bit scared of the risk you may pose as a newly returned traveler; everyone is doing their best to navigate this situation. Keep up with the sanitation and safety guidelines from your course, and heed the established advice of health experts. Although you have had very limited exposure risk these past months, we still recommend taking a cautious and intentional approach for your return, especially after passing through airports, planes, and the like in your travels home. Make a plan with your family for your return. Will you quarantine until you can receive a COVID test? How will you mitigate possible exposure to your family and friends? Be safe, intentional, and cautious in your return.
Patience because your transition back home will take time. Don’t expect for everything to immediately feel the same. Don’t expect for everyone around you to readily understand your experiences and emotions. And know that with time and patience, you will form newly familiar routines and norms. Your experiences traveling this semester will gain clarity and traction in your life at home, but it will take patience for that to take hold.
Compassion because your experience is uniquely yours. Your family and friends back home have not been exposed to the same realities, perspectives, and insights. Don’t let that difference become a barrier to connection or a cause for judgment. Compassion because we are all doing our best to cope with a world often beyond our control, and while we can’t always change what’s outside of us, we can choose to respond with kindness.
I want you to know that even though your Dragons semester is coming to a close, you are forever a part of this community. We are here for you now, and into the future. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us whether that’s in a week, or years down the road. Be safe, go slow.