James, Teresa and I, the tiny YES Abroad Malaysia family had our departure orientation. There was crying, there was laughing, there was Starbucks. The wonderful E Laine and our other LP's were there as well as we spent hours discussing the bizarre period of re-adjustment and reverse culture shock. We read the letters we wrote to ourselves back in July, when we had no idea what we were getting into. It was eye-opening to see how much I've changed, how different my views have changed.
We had our farewell luncheon with our host families, AFS Malaysia staff, Dato' Dale, and one of our favorite people from the US Embassy. Although small, it accomplished what needed to be done.
I stayed with Teresa's host family in PJ for the final days before our flight. We said a very teary goodbye to the other exchange students, strangers that grew to be my best friends. One last Pavillion trip. One last KL Sentral meet-up. One last time getting stared at on the LRT. One last drink in a bag. One last night spent staring up at KLCC, thinking about how blessed I am to have had this experience. To have this experience. It's not over yet.
My last dinner in Malaysia was Bangsar banana leaf rice with mango lassi. My last breakfast was dim sum. And there was definitely one last roti canai bought at the airport.
The airport was quite a scene. 3 American teenagers with easily 250 pounds of luggage between us (100 from Teresa, 100 from me, 50 from James...) We did have to throw away stuff at the airport. Itwas rough, but it kept my mind off of things. After baggage was sorted out, Teresa and James said their last goodbyes to their host family (mine couldn't come to the airport) and with our flight chaperone, we were off.
I'd be lying if I said I didn't bawl on the flight to Hong Kong. I cried like a baby. It wasn't easy leaving my home, to return to my home. After the best roast duck ever (SERIOUSLY TRY IT IF YOU'RE IN HONG KONG AIRPORT) I survived the 13 hour flight to LA.
Even those first steps into LAX felt very strange, the difference noticeable despite the unmistakable airport atmosphere. Due to a long layover, we had an overnight at an LA hotel. Dinner was provided and I enjoyed my real cheese and bread very much. I slept for a few hours, despite sleeping on both previous flights. Finally the next morning we hauled our luggage back to the airport and completed the last leg of our journey to DC.
|Farewell Dinner with Dato' Dale|
|Last banana leaf rice|
|My bags were severely overweight|
|Last photo with the host fams|
|First meal back in the USA|