Dray Dreaming

How it Feels to Come Home After 7 Months Abroad

“Thank you for the party, but I could never stay
Many thangs is on my mind, words in the way
I want to thank you falettinme be mice elf agin
Thank you falettinme be mice elf agin”
Sly & the Family Stone

When I left Philadelphia back in February, I was overwhelmed with emotions. I was a little scared, a little sad, slightly overwhelmed, but mostly I was extremely excited! I remember so vividly sitting on the flight from Philly to Madrid and finding that writing down my thoughts and emotions was very therapeutic. I’m now on my flight back home so I figured I’d do the same.

Perhaps the most notable aspect of this flight is that my mind is much less cluttered than it was back in February. I can boil everything down to two emotions: Excitement and Gratitude


  1. Mostly I’m excited to see my friends. Imagine going 6 months without grabbing a beer after work or meeting up for Sunday brunch. Those simple day-to-day interactions are easy to take for granted and there are so many people I can’t wait to reconnect with. Plus, my sister, brother-in-law, and their two amazing girls are coming to visit me from LA in a few weeks! I haven’t seen them since Christmas! FaceTime/Skype/WhatsApp are all wonderful bits of technology but they simply can’t replace face-to-face interaction.
  2. I’m excited to be home. I bought a house a couple of years ago and though it’s not perfect, it is my home. I’m excited to sleep in my bed, make a coffee in the morning, watch some TV with one of my friends, and make a home-cooked meal.
  3. I’m excited to see my cat. If you’ve met Tuckle, you may not understand why I miss her but she’s a cool cat. I hope she still likes me.
  4. I’m excited for a little bit of a routine. In each of my destinations, I tried desperately to create some kind of normalcy in my life but it’s hard. For example, in places like Valencia, my language skills prevented me from what I would consider a normal routine. In other places, I was staying in hotels which also prevented me from feeling completely normal. In other places, I only stayed a few days which meant that I was basically living out of a suitcase. Though I don’t want my life to be too much of a routine, I am excited to be settled down for a short while.
  5. I’m excited to plan my next trip. I use a couple of different apps to organize all my flights and hotel stays and once I get off this plane, those apps won’t have anything to show me! Where should I go next!?!


I have so many people and things to be thankful for. Here’s my best effort to show my gratitude for everything I’ve experienced so far in 2018.

  1. I’m thankful for everyone that helped me back in Philly. Thilo, Jill, Jenna, and Matt all helped me keep my life straight back home, from checking my mail to taking care of my plants and my cat to letting me park my car in their garage. Thank you so much for making this experience possible.
  2. I’m thankful to all of my friends who kept in touch over the last 7 months. It’s not easy to maintain a friendship without seeing someone, especially when they’re in a different time zone. But you all did it, even if it was only a random text message from time to time. Thank you for not forgetting about me and making some effort to check in. I can’t wait to see you all!!
  3. I’m thankful for all the new connections I’ve made along the way. Through social media and the blog, I’ve met some amazing people. Further, I’ve also grown relationships with people I knew previously but maybe not too well. And of course, through my travels, I’ve built relationships with people from all over the world. It’s kind of wild to think that I now have friends in Spain, Budapest, Singapore, Costa Rica, and Indonesia who I wouldn’t hesitate to call if I was coming out to visit once again. Even more, I’ve met people who were also traveling around from Hong Kong, New Zealand, England, and all over the United States. I think these new friendships will always be one of the things I remember most about this experience.
  4. This may seem like kind of a weird one but I’m thankful for all the people who helped me along the way, mostly from the service industry. Sure, I had slow service at a restaurant from time to time and I had some flight delays and other minor nuisances. However, people were almost always friendly and helped me get from place to place while I enjoyed this once-in-a-lifetime experience. I got great advice from locals along the way and I honestly can’t say I had any truly awful experiences at any hotel, bar, restaurant, café, airport, or taxi.
  5. I’m thankful for my good health and good fortune. There are so many things that can go wrong over 7 months. Three years ago, I found I had an irregular heartbeat. I had it treated but a year and a half later it came back and I had to have it treated yet again. If it had come back again, I might have had to come home early. But it didn’t.
    Last year, I herniated a disc in my back and have been living with back and hip pain for years now. Flare-ups can knock me out for weeks… but they didn’t. I take good care of myself but sometimes you can’t predict these things. I’m so grateful that this trip was uneventful in that regard.
    Beyond my good health, I’m grateful to have avoided any other difficult circumstances. This one struck me recently after the earthquakes in Indonesia. There was absolutely a time when I was considering staying in Indonesia and perhaps visiting Lombok or the Gili Islands. I have so much love for Bali and the Indonesian people. It absolutely breaks my heart to see what they are going through in the past few days.
  6. Finally, thanks for all of you that have followed along on ADrayInTheLife. I didn’t really know what I was doing when I started the blog and I didn’t know if anyone would really care. But every article I’ve written has gotten some clicks and many people have liked, commented, and shared on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter all of which I still find to be kind of amazing. So thank you for following along. I hope you got something meaningful out of the time you spent reading.
Thank you to everyone who made this a truly amazing experience!!

    6 Responses

  1. Welcome home Joris. Hope to see you soon ❤️❤️❤️

  2. Come home. Your Temple family missed you, but were thrilled to support your “great adventure”.

  3. Congrats on your journey. All of the above makes perfect sense to me and it’s great that you have so much gratitude for the travel and for your home.

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