ISANIBAKBO – I Studied Abroad and Now I’m Back and Kinda Bummed Out
Did you just spend the time of your life on an amazing program abroad and now you’re back and unsure of what to do? Everything back home might feel unchanged and now, all of a sudden, you are put back into an old routine. Except: you’re a completely different person. Post-study-abroad-blues is a real thing and affects many returnees. Here are 5 tips to help you out.
When students get to their study abroad destinations, they tend to wrestle with comparing it to their home country to try to understand the culture shock they are experiencing. Do you remember that feeling? The same thing happens when you return home, just the other way around, as you experience reverse culture shock. Just like when you first arrived, the way through it is in the middle place: try not to hate it or love it, just accept the differences.
1. Stay in Contact
Keep the conversation going. Reach out to everyone you made a connection with while abroad. Your host family, international friends, professors, USAC staff, and many others will want to know how you are doing and how life is different after being abroad. In talking to people you met while abroad, you will be able to remember and cherish the great moments you had as well as find support and empathy from other USAC students who may be feeling the same way as you.
2. Practice the Language/Keep the Culture
You may have made great strides in learning a new language while abroad: you may be feeling down because you aren’t regularly practicing it. Find a conversation partner, watch movies, listen to music in that language and don’t forget all the effort you put into learning it. If you don’t have language skills to focus on, keep something from or about that place near your heart. Try to implement tea time or fika traditions, even in your home country.
3. Be Patient with your Home Team
Maybe it will help to look at your family and friends with the same lenses you used abroad with your host family and new friends there. You may not know what you want from your home team of family and friends — or know how to ask for it. Remember it took you a semester to figure out how different countries and cultures can be — it’s likely something you are still figuring out, right? Remember it may take your home team some time to catch up to you. Remember that you are un-learning/re-learning your home culture. It’s okay to be in that middle, messy place together.
4. Feel all the Feelings
Struggle can be a good thing. We all know the timeless adage of “better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all.” The same idea rings true in this situation. You gained many new friends, went on unrivaled adventures, ate really weird things, and learned an immense amount. The experience of studying abroad often feels too short. What feels hard or challenging is also a good reminder of just how important this has been for you — cherish and remember all of those small moments that you miss and wish you could repeat.
5. Having Two Homes
The French word dépaysement is the feeling you get when you become less attached to your home country. This feeling has two effects; you feel less like a citizen of your home country and more like a citizen of your study abroad country. Rather than taking that as a negative, realize the positives! You are a diplomat to another country and now have two places that you, at one time or another, refer to as your “home.”
Anyone will tell you that studying abroad is worth it — even in the midst of figuring out what to do when you’re in the midst of ISANIBAKBO.
Thinking about going? Thinking about going again?
We can’t wait to see where USAC can take you and all the ordinary and extraordinary things you will experience!