Returned Peace Corps Volunteer – Where do I fit in?

Picture this: you are in a dream with a male friend and you are working together to board up the windows and doors of someone else’s home. It’s late and you both have to get home, so you walk together, but he keeps right and you turn left. As you are walking, a group of zombie runners start coming up. You freeze! What happens? You wake up from your dreams.

Zombie dreams or dreams about an apocalypse (similar to the one I had mentioned above) means that the dreamer is going through a life-changing event or major transitions . The dreamer feels lost, unsure about the future, alone, disconnect and feeling out of touch with reality. Having been back just two weeks, I feel all those emotions.

The first few days I was in good ol’ USA was spent in D.C. with my older brother Dennis, his wife, Emily and their baby girl, Dylan Toby. My sister was there, as well as my nephew and my boyfriend. I had wanted to be a tourist in D.C. so we spent time doing a little sight seeing and absolutely loving it.


My sister, Nathan and I headed to Delaware where I would be at my sister’s house. My mother recently moved to the Netherlands and so the house that was a part of my pre-PC life is not ours anymore.

I have been wearing sweaters around their house because.. in my words… “they live like eskimos and want me to be a frozen Popsicle”. Shocked by the feelings of air conditioning I decided to bundle up every time we were inside despite the 90 degree heat outside the window. Other things I was astonished to not understand: smart televisions where you just say “watch the walking dead” and it comes on, the washing machines and all of its dang buttons, iPhones and their fancy technology that requires me to google everything, or any other technology that requires button pressing. Even more depressing — watching South Park with my friends where all they want to do is watch and all I want to do is talk about this amazing article I read where widow and childless women in Tanzania are getting married to each other so that men can’t come in to take their property. Where do I fit in?

Your friends and family, as much as they love you and as much as you love them, don’t always want to hear about how amazing your experiences were. Even if they have a genuine interest in your travels, it’s difficult for them to relate to you most of the time. And it’s difficult for you to relate to those that stayed behind. This is a natural part of coming back home after an extended time away. How could people so removed from your experiences be totally in tune to your thoughts and feelings? Sure, you had your online chats every so often, but whatever they know about your life abroad is only the tip of the iceberg. They have their own busy lives to tend to after all. It can be frustrating at times.

“Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but, by demonstrating that all people cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends. – Maya Angelou”


After a year of mind-blowing adventures, you‘re back where you started — sitting on a couch, back in someone else’s apartment, or in your old bedroom, bored, anxious, and jittery. You find your friends don’t understand the new you, don’t want to hear about your time abroad while they sit in rush hour, or don’t get why you feel so uncomfortable being back. “What? You don’t like it here anymore?” “Take it easy, you’ve only been back a few weeks. It’ll take time.” Well, when is it the right time? When am I going to be feel “normal” about being back? I had yearned to be here, to see my family and friends, but why does it feel so…. off?

I don’t have all the answers right now. I want to know what my next moves are after only two weeks and it’s difficult for me to just sit around. I dream for the days that I have my own space, am independent again and can have the financial means to travel. Why are we never happy with what we have at the moment? Can I move on from my time in Ethiopia and adjust to life back in America without letting go of the people I came to love and the culture I lived in for 27 months?

Please, keep being patient with me, and I will keep stumbling over my words until I figure out how to make a sentence that makes sense to you, and to me.


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