Hello Bowdoin, it's so nice to see you again. It's been a while (since May of last year?) but you look great, all covered in snow as expected. Obviously my time spent in sunny Buenos Aires last semester is making the transition back to the freezer box that is Maine more challenging than usual, but also that much more exciting.

It's wonderful to see old faces that I've missed, to share experiences with teachers and friends, to bundle up in down jackets and winter boots and spandex again, to eat dinner in a very high-class dining hall, and to be stimulated academically after a semester of brain on hiatus. It's also nice to rejoin the Bowdoin social scene—Thursday night was a blast, and I can only imagine the good times Friday and Saturday will bring. It sure is great to be back.

But things are different now. The returning abroad students out there know what I mean. Besides the obvious novelties to be encountered (the enormity of the Peter Buck Center for Health and Fitness, the unfamiliar faces of first years), we also must adjust to our own fresh perspectives—perspectives we have acquired while out of the country. People, we have seen things.

We have been places. We are changed women and men. I don't mean that in the sense that we all have hidden piercings and boyfriends in foreign countries. I mean it in terms of having left the Bowdoin bubble, left our hometowns, families and friends, left the United States of America, and found something awesome to bring back (along with that football jersey, some French chocolates or an Italian liqueurs).

Some of us are bringing back fluency or deeper knowledge of a foreign language. Most of us have acquired an understanding and respect for a totally different culture, which encompasses a new way of living, thinking, working, governing, eating, communicating—the list goes on.

Some of us are here at Bowdoin after having developed profound friendships with foreign students or other students from the U.S., while others have formed a lasting relationship with their host family. We have tried unknown foods and visited historic sites, studied history and politics and religion from a different point of view, swum in alien waters, danced to strange rhythms. Our outlook has been challenged and expanded. Sometimes our minds have been blown.

While abroad we were better able to process what it means to be a young American, an individual from our respective towns or cities, and a Bowdoin student. We can see our worlds and ourselves anew, because we have been afforded the opportunity to observe them from afar.

In returning home, these new understandings are now being put into action, and we are seeing everything with a fresh perspective. There are things about home that seem more vivid to us now; customs, tendencies, policies and ideals are more alive because through our knowledge of other countries we have acquired the ability to compare, question, critique, reject or embrace elements of our own culture.

But with our broadened horizon comes responsibility. As we return to Bowdoin, and as our classmates return next fall, it is crucial that we retain the widened outlook, the cultural sensitivity, and the centeredness and direction that so many of us have found while away. Many of us are determined to focus our minds and time and energy toward specific things in addition to or instead of others, because our time abroad has affirmed their importance to us.

Others are pondering ways to make changes at Bowdoin and beyond in their personal behavior or in areas of administration or policy. Some may hope to connect with that person they had always wanted to get to know.

Perhaps several are motivated to start a club, or become more active at Bowdoin or in the community. Many of us have likely gained an increased independence and desire to explore, learn and travel. Others may have realized they simply need to do less.

Numerous people I have talked to are back with a newfound appreciation for Bowdoin, the United States, and their friends and family here. Whatever it is we have clarified or learned while abroad, I encourage all of us to hold onto our resolutions and make changes accordingly. We have been enriched by our experiences abroad, and it is now our opportunity to share the wealth.

Cameron Weller is a member of the Class of 2011.