As we arrive back in Washington a week early, we’re torn. Are we glad to be home, or wishing we were able to round out a full month of the #mobilebiosphere experiment? A little of both, I think.

Here’s what I’ve learned:

1. I owe pre-packaged salads an apology. If only they can utilize less plastic.

2. WIFI is a privilege and we shouldn’t take it for granted. This was Laini’s biggest frustration on the trip, as we’re so accustomed to great connectivity. But we learned from our frustration. Did you know that 16 million Americans lack broadband service at threshold speeds? In rural areas (much of where spent our time this month), nearly one-fourth of the population (14.5 million people!) lack access to the service. And in tribal areas (where we also spent a week), one-third of the population lacks access.

3. When hot water is limited, timing a shower is of utmost importance. Don’t ask Laini about the time she ran out of hot water and stood, dripping, waiting for the next batch to heat. Seriously. Don’t.

4. There’s a reason RV rentals don’t come with wine glasses. There is so much more vibration than you’d expect! Durables only, and open the fridge carefully after you’ve parked.

Paved roads are a great use of my tax dollars. The unpaved roads in New Mexico were brutal!

5. I deeply love my family. We didn’t once have an argument. We danced around one another in this small space, and made everything work. From meetings to interviews, school to blogging. We conclude the #mobilebiosphere adventure with loads of new inside jokes, memories, and having consumed probably a dozen too many s’mores.

Emily Chang | #Mobilebiosphere | Seattle #pikeplace
We took this before we left Seattle; we had decided to be “tourists for the weekend” #pikeplace

6. I didn’t know my geography as well as I should have. But I still had a giggle at this German dude’s view of the States.

I’d like to close this post out by encouraging you to get outside your comfort zone with your family. You’ll share an experience that you’ll remember for a lifetime. You’ll learn a lot. Laugh a lot. And come out the other side more humble, empathetic, and educated.