Andrea Sadloňová is a Slovak-born scientist who returned home after 19 years in the USA.
I returned home to Slovakia in the late summer of 2015, after living for two decades in the USA. The return was marked with a lot of preparation, worry, anxiety, but also excitement. I was worried that I would waste my potential and lose professional opportunities. I was reassuring myself that with my family and old friends I could make it, that I would have the opportunity to spend more time with them, to participate in activities with them and renew connections. I saw the whole event as an arrival to the final destination.
I had a feeling of relief for several days after my return. One sunny, warm, late-August morning, I woke up with a blissful feeling and I thought to myself, “Why have I waited so long to return, I should have done this ten years ago.” However, over a period of two years, I have started to understand something about myself. Returning to some places, even my childhood country, does not necessarily mean that the journey has ended for me.
Several people are uneasy with my realization that the journey does not end. When will it end ?, they keep asking. My "wanderlust" makes them feel uncomfortable. I understand the impact of my decisions on people who love me, both here in Slovakia and in the US. It is difficult to carry the burden, the guilt. I try to mitigate the side effects of my doings as much as possible, especially when I start losing my vision and do not know where I am going. There are environments where a crystal clear vision offers herself spontaneously, but there are also environments where it disappears, everything is cloudy and one does not see the path at all. For me, moving to new places helps me find a new vision and redefine a new direction. I would meet people that inspire me enough to provide a springboard to my ideas and actualization. I think that's how I've developed bouts of wanderlust.
One positive thing about wanderlust is that once you start meeting different people and surrounding yourself with new ideas and experiencing new places, cultures, societies, smells and tastes, it becomes a part of your lifestyle and mindset. After you have integrated yourself and become accustomed to a new culture and society, it will always be part of you. The places you visit, people you befriend, experiences that leave their mark, they all become a part of you. Many places end up being a home and many unrelated people become your family. Even if you do not talk to these people for years, you know you can come back to them. People like me, equally lost or found, are part of my second home.
On a plane, I would ask a random stranger for answers to my current problems and I would receive a comforting answer. I learned to be empathetic to the problems of those unrelated to me which allowed me to connect with them. I needed a connection with them to drive me, to make me feel alive. My experiences made me more open. Over the years, I had to learn to be true to myself, so I would not get lost. But I still do get lost, especially after major changes. Living in a foreign country, I used to live at a higher level of discomfort, so I've always been more careful about losing my balance. But good experiences have also reaffirmed my belief that people are good, no matter where they are coming from. We can all connect in our humanity.