Week 36: Who Says You Can’t Go Home? (NYC)

Before leaving for Remote Year, I thought I’d go home at least a couple of times during the year. Once I had been on it a couple of months, it started feeling like maybe that number would be zero, especially when I decided to go to Greece in July instead of stopping trough NYC on the way from South America to Europe.

Between wanting to reconnect with family and work, one trip home seemed reasonable, and though not the most convenient of routes, going between Europe and Asia made the most sense. I booked flights, made plans, and tried not to stress too much about how it would feel to be home.

Copenhagen

I got to spend 8 hours in Copenhagen on a layover. I had no specific agenda and knew very little of Copenhagen, but it was a place I’d always wanted to visit after reading about it in Number the Stars (one of my favorite childhood books).

I figured I’d enjoy myself wandering around the city. After locking up my luggage in CPH airport, I took the train to city center and took myself on a little walking tour…

  • Nyhavn, the famous canal with colorful shophouses lining the streets
  • Hans Christian Andersen’s Little Mermaid, which was surrounded by tourists and slightly underwhelming
  • A statue of Hans Christian Andersen himself, whose stories I grew up listening to as my mom read them to me before bed
  • Kastellet and the surrounding parks, on the way to the Little Mermaid
  • Copenhagen Street Food, a very Smorgasburg-like food court in an old warehouse, where I ate brisket and had a delicious beer
  • The pedestrian-friendly shopping areas of Copenhagen
  • Of course, canals!

I loved the city and can’t wait to go back! It was a crisp, fall day and I enjoyed plenty of coffees and even helped myself to a delectable chocolate cake at a café I popped into for a couple hours of work. Copenhagen is so clean, pedestrian-friendly, and full of quaint spots – I could tell why people love visiting.

New York City

I was so excited to see my family, friends and boyfriend this week that I didn’t really think about what it would be like to be back in NY itself. I was jolted when my first few experiences in the city made me feel stressed rather than at home. The tension in the city was palpable, from subway commutes to walking around the city streets. Granted, this was the week before Election Day, but I was struck by how negative the energy around me was – especially after small-town Split. This feeling faded after a couple of days, but I can’t help but wonder how much of this energy I’ve been absorbing all these years and whether New York should be a long-term home for me.

One of the highlights from my time at home was spending a couple of days with my nephews around Halloween, including decorating pumpkins at their local community center, going trick-or-treating, and getting to do school pick-ups/drop-offs. It’s crazy how big they’re getting, but our quality time together made me feel better about not being around for a whole year.

I also got to try on bridesmaid dresses with both of my bride-to-be friends, spend time with the boyfriend, and hang out with my parents and grandma, reminding me of how much I have to look forward to in 2017.

Finally, I got to send off two of my friends on their own six-month Asia adventure, seeing almost all of my good friends in NY in the process. We had a blast chowing down on Malay food, celebrating Halloween in the city, and enjoying each other’s company.

Work-wise, it was interesting to be back in the office. For one, I don’t know how anyone gets anything done – there are so many distractions! I know it’s probably because I had been away for so long, but it felt like I couldn’t get any work done because of how many conversations and meetings I was having. Nonetheless, we had a couple of great days of teambuilding and training, including setting goals for 2017, which was fun for me to facilitate, and an Italian cooking class, which was fun for me to participate in.

Reflections

The biggest question I got this week was, “How does it feel to be back?” Strangely, it felt weird and normal at the same time. It felt like I could easily resume my life in NY, but also like I wasn’t quite ready to yet. It felt like I had been gone forever, and like no time had passed.

Overall, I’m really glad I got to go home and re-set. If nothing else, it made me less anxious about coming back after Remote Year since there’s so much waiting for me in NY. I did have an emotional exit full of uncertainty around what I wanted my future lifestyle to be, but I feel more supported than ever.

After this crazy week, I was ready to rejoin the group and embark on the final leg of our journey: Asia! First stop: Kuala Lumpur.

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