Hey everyone (if you're still reading, you have the patience of Job)!
Well, I got back to the United states about three weeks ago, and got sucked right back into the busy life here. I was home in California for about a week, and got to see my familia (which was great) and then it was off to Boston to spend a few weeks with Jake, my boyfriend (which has also been TOTALLY great). So here I sit, in Boston, and it's already been almost a month since I returned. Where does the time go??
Now, I'm sure both of you left reading are wondering, if I'm in the US, what the heck do I have to write about? Well, I feel that I just left this blog unfinished, you know? Not that the dog-bite-in-the-butt story wasn't good (it's healing nicely and I'm all done with my rabies shots! Woo!) but it didn't really feel very conclusion-y. So, just so that you're all forewarned, this is probably going to be a very touchy-feely-gooshy reflective type of post, so you should get out while you still can.
Okay, onto the mushy stuff!
I think it's still hard to say what impact my time in Bhutan had on me... I was only there for two months, but it really was a definitive experience. For one thing, it was the first time I had ever moved to a place all on my own without a built-in transition time (which college definitely had) and I'll admit it, I was really scared. What if I didn't make any friends? What if I was way too homesick? What if I hated it? Worse, what if they hated me? (Never mind that I didn't even know who "they" would be...)
Well, none of that happened... for one thing, the Bhutanese are about the friendliest people on the planet, and it felt like everyone in Thimpu was doing their best to make sure I felt as welcome and as at-home as possible (and it totally worked!). It's nice to know, though, that I can manage being dropped off in a country that's pretty different from my own, accomplish what I went there for, and have a really awesome time into the bargain. Doing something like this really forced me to be introspective in order to examine the types of fears mentioned above. Once I realized what was at their roots, I was able to propose (to myself) solutions that not only addressed those specific concerns but more deeply rooted ones that I was carrying unawares and to a certain extent, still carry, but knowingly. I really learned a lot about myself in Bhutan; some good things (I like to make friends!) and some not-so-good things (stick me in an apartment with television and I will have to resist the urge to watch it for HOURS even though I'm in one of the most beautiful places in the world). But since the whole point was a bit of education, I'm happy I picked up some stuff about me along the way.
I also managed to learn some things about the world around me, one of the biggest being that people are very much alike, even if they come from countries that are very different. Bhutan is certainly not America (I don't think anyone would argue with that) and the two countries have two quite divergent cultures. However, I couldn't help but notice how many times I thought "Gosh, X from home would really love to meet Y from Bhutan-- they have so much in common!" I realize that this is super cliche, but it's also true: people are people, no matter where they're from. This is something I've believed for a long time, but it was reassuring to see it so starkly borne out. It seems to me that the troubles begin when we become "the public;" it's like we transition from thinking as people to thinking as a mass, and while people are smart, masses are not. (If anybody has any kind of solution to this problem, please, shout it out.) I realize that this isn't some kind of new or original thought, but for me, it became much more real as I spent more time in Bhutan.
There are many more lessons I picked up in Bhutan (do not trust a Bhutanese person who tells you something is not "that spicy" ; be nice to stray dogs but don't assume they're all just waiting to love on you; walk around a new city as much as possible and ignore the dang TV; try not to miss out on any travel opportunities; accept every invitation that is not sketchy) but it would take way too long to write them all out and examine them. But, using one last Bhutanese philosophy, I'm happy to just let it be. All that learning can nestle inside of me and inform my choices and my self for years to come.
Holla back Bhutan, what what???