Memories: A Student’s Journey on Processing the Summer

I cannot believe this is the last journal. I cannot believe that it has already been 10 weeks since I left. I cannot believe how I grew and changed during my time there. And I cannot decide on how to talk about my experiences.
My reentry process has been chaotic. I was immediately thrust into my domestic internship then school. I went from the beautiful and relaxed hours held in Bosnia to working at least 40 hours a week. Needless to say, I am not sure that I had a moment to catch my breath, let alone process what I experienced abroad. Frankly, this story has not been easily sharable. When asked by family and friends, what they decide to ask about depicts what assumptions they are making, and it feels like they are looking for simple responses. So slowly I have become accustomed to saying “It was wonderful, I highly recommend the Balkans.” While that appeases the request for information, it feels like it does not do my summer justice. However, what can I truly say? My trip was absolutely amazing! It was also exhausting, devastating, disheartening, heart-warming, and joyous. It was the full spectrum of emotions wrapped into eight weeks. But even writing this is difficult. How do I consolidate everything that coming home as met for me within 600 words? How do I summarize my summer in 600 words?
Recently, I had to give a presentation with my International Disaster Psychology cohort about our experiences abroad. I spoke about the pre-departure phase, the moments leading up to leaving. I detailed my dreams and hopes that I had ascribed to this summer internship, of how I imagined I would grow and change. I decided that this was the experience that would determine my future career. However, in the end, the journey was not strictly about meeting these expectations. My journey there was something that I could not predict.
The truth of the matter is that I am still processing what I experienced and how I am reintegrating myself back into my culture. I think about my trip daily, I put remembrances of it throughout my house. I try to honor those who gifted me with their stories but I am nervous that I do not do it justice. Bosnia was an experience that changed my perceptions, how I view myself, how I view my world, and how I view my clinical practice.
To say that I have completed my experience in Bosnia would be inaccurate. I will continue to use what I learned on this experience as I grow in school and beyond. My eight weeks in the country might be over, but I will forever hold this experience in my heart.

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