What you’ve feared since first leaving the United States a few months ago has arrived: coming home. Perhaps settling into your country was a little rough at first – homesick and unsure of how to feel in your new surroundings you adjusted slowly to the terrain. Or, perhaps your experience was smooth sailing from the get-go and with one foot barely off of the plane you immediately felt like you were part of the scene. Or maybe like most of us, you found yourself somewhere between the two and acclimated at your own pace.
No matter the initial sentiment, you ultimately became enamored with your destination. Any pangs of uncertainty that you experienced faded into distant memory and you don’t mean to brag, but you know your destination pretty well by this point and you think you share a pretty deep bond.
And you are not at all ready to leave. How could you be when there are a million reasons for you to stay abroad?
For starters, there are too many places left to see and you can’t possibly return to the U.S. without crossing at least five (or ten) more destinations off of your list.
The local friends that you made would miss you far too much for you to even think of departing before next spring, or maybe even next summer. “Why did I choose to study abroad for just one semester?” is a question you find yourself asking daily.
You have grown accustomed to speaking in the language of your country and are quite convinced that you have drastically lost the ability to operate in English.
You are also distantly aware of a recent event that took place in the U.S. that caused a big stir. What was it again? It’s on the tip of your tongue… Oh yes! The presidential election. Just another reason why you think it might be in your best interest to stay away for a while.
And though you have spent just a few months away, your experience feels like a separate lifetime because it is so distinct from anything that you’ve ever done before. And the world has actually changed! It’s widened and expanded and altogether grown in ways that you couldn’t have imagined. Why does no one else seem to have noticed?
It may go without saying that coming home could be a shock at first and readjusting to the United States may take a little time. It’s important that you spend time processing your experience. Write about it! If you didn’t journal or keep a blog while you were abroad, now is still a good time to record your experiences because they’re still vivid in your mind. And share your stories with friends, family, as well as anyone that happens to be around you.
Make sure to stay in touch with the local people that you met abroad. The relationships that you made in your host country are invaluable and you should do all that you can to keep in contact with whoever you became close to: your host family, university professors, study abroad program directors, and fellow students, for instance.
Finally, remember that studying abroad is a very unique experience and upon return you have an incredible opportunity to promote your experience in your future endeavors – job interviews, and graduate program applications, and in all else that you do.
If you would like to read about my adventures in Paris check out my personal blog at:
Middle Eastern Studies Minor
Institut Catholique de Paris, Paris, France (Spring 2015)