It’s been over a week since my study abroad period came to an end so I thought I’d reflect upon something which I (and a number of study abroad friends) have experienced since leaving the mainland… adjusting and transitioning back to life at home.
I think the first hurdle I had to get over was the acceptance that my time abroad was actually over! Even though I’d been saying my farewells to many new friends whilst abroad, it took a long time to sink in that my nine months was over! It’s fair to say I was feeling very conflicted between wanting to stay longer with my new friends and way of life and getting myself home as soon as was humanly possible. Nostalgia became very real, and suddenly memories from the beginning of the year came flooding back to me. Emotional times.
I had absolutely no idea how I was to go back to my old life, carrying on as if my whole time abroad never happened. Of course, family and friends from home are excited to hear about your travels, and everyone wants the latest gossip since you’ve been gone for so long, but this curiosity only seemed to last for a day or two.
If I were being 100% honest, I’d describe the process of reverse culture shock to be quite anti climactic. I’d been on the biggest adventure of my life yet, somehow, everyone else’s life seemed to have been exactly how I left it. All my anecdotes and relevant stories were now from my time abroad, and I could hear myself becoming THAT person who can’t help themselves but to talk about their time abroad: “Oh I had a similar experience in France… Oh, when I was in France… When I went travelling around France… A friend I met while in France..” See what I mean? It must get annoying, but it’s pretty difficult to avoid and a bad habit to get out of. Luckily my friends and family are happy to hear about my experiences but bus drivers and random people in the pub aren’t as interested as you’d expect.
Adjusting to life in my parents’ house has also been a challenge. Living my own life in another country lead me into forgetting how life in my ‘rents actually works, in that whenever I go back for the summer I instantly become the teenager I was when I lived with them. At 21, this is something I’d rather avoid but it seems to be inescapable, which then has a knock on effect on how my parents see my brothers. Tensions haven’t been as high as I initially thought they would be, but I know it won’t be long until petty disputes over ‘who does more housework than whom’ erupt between myself and my parents.
This isn’t to say I haven’t enjoyed my time at home. I’ve loved being reunited with my dog and I recently returned to the city of Sunderland where I study at university to visit my remaining friends there and also to find a flat to reside in for my final year at uni. So far, the house hunting hasn’t gone too well, but the partying has been spectacular and it’s safe to say I’d missed my friends more than I realised. For the majority of my uni friends, graduation is just around the corner, and this has led to the speculation of how my final year will play out. One of the more depressing features of coming home has been reading the social media posts of everyone who will graduate this year, celebrating how they’ve finished their exams, assignments and dissertations, knowing that I have all of this to come.
For now, I’m trying to get in shape for summer and enjoy my free time while it lasts. Final year is heading my way and I know it’s going to be tough, but I’m feeling weirdly optimistic and ready to face it head on.
Until next time…