We all have it, that ache you feel after coming back home from studying abroad and realizing you’re back to normal life…it never goes away no matter how long it’s been since you’ve been back.
Studying abroad is an amazing time in your life where you saw, experienced, and ate things you never imagined. You spent time exploring new cities and making new friends and memories that you will never forget. You traveled by plane, train, bus, and maybe even camel! Your last plane ride is the most bittersweet one- going home.
I can tell you that leaving Florence, or any place where you spent a considerable amount of time abroad, was very hard. You have to say goodbye to people who got you through four months of the “study abroad mood cycle”: happy, sad, scared, overwhelmed, you name it. As you’re attempting to fit your massive suitcases into a taxi en route to the airport, you get your last few glimpses of a place that has changed you forever. I would be lying if I didn’t say that I got a little teary-eyed.
When you arrive back in the U.S. after being on a plane and maybe even a bus for more than 10 hours, it still hasn’t hit you that you are back home. You get home and soon fall asleep because it could very well be 2 a.m. in your study abroad location, but is only 5 p.m. at home. The next thing you know it’s 3 a.m. and you are starving; this vicious cycle is known as jet lag. Jet lag is a very real and can seriously impact you the first week you are back home.
I found that the best way to combat jet lag was to make a sleep schedule. Make a set time that you go to bed and wake up. Have friends or family members try and keep you awake to get used to the timezone change. Also stay hydrated! Now that you’re home, everyone wants to see you and find out how your trip was.
It somehow becomes difficult to put 4 months of life-changing experiences into one or two sentences. I found myself saying, “It was incredible” or “I can’t believe I’m back home”. You show your pictures on Facebook to older relatives and give gifts to your friends. Even if someone doesn’t ask, you manage to get snippets of your study abroad experience into conversation. Your friends want to catch you up with everything that happened while you were gone, and you start to feel that you don’t relate to them as much anymore.
You just spent 4 months abroad, why do you feel left out? Well the answer is this, You just traveled all over the world while your friends were stuck at school. You tried delicacies such as Bratwurst in Germany, while they had burgers in the dining hall. The challenge is finding that balance to talk about what you went through while you were abroad, but not coming off snobby or above your friends.
When you are in your jet lag state or just surfing the web you stumble across travel pictures and articles non-stop; It only makes your urge to go back abroad even stronger. So why not go again!? No one is stopping you! Check skyscanner.com for the cheapest flights and convince some of your friends to go with you! There’s nothing holding you back but yourself.