My semester in Italy was unforgettable. I knew leaving Italy would be difficult for many reasons, but I somehow still wasn’t prepared for how it ended up feeling. I didn’t just leave the country I’d stayed in for a couple months—I left all the people I met and held close during the semester. Before long, upon return, I returned to the comfort of routine.
But quickly, days started to blend together, and the comfortable became stiflingly uncomfortable. I’ve been kept plenty busy with work and projects, but still, I want to travel, see new things, and continue growing. Fortunately, I expected and feared this sense of comfort while still in Italy, and I made myself a list of things to do to keep myself adventuring. It’s helped me to come out of this comfort and make myself uncomfortable again.
Here are some ways you can keep your life’s adventure going, even after you return to the United States.
Plan weekend roadtrips.
If you’re like me, you can’t hop on a plane to visit another country in your freetime. However, if you have a car, a free weekend, some gas money, and some friends (safety in numbers!), block out a roadtrip or two in your calendar. They don’t have to be long or far; just find a spot you’ve never traveled to before, gather some friends, and go!
Reflect on your study abroad experience.
Journal, chat, and go through pictures. Identify what exactly it is that held your interest during your travels, and focus on incorporating some part of that into your current daily life. Was it the food in the country you visited? Learn some of the recipes. The constant state of people-meeting? Join a new club or introduce yourself to someone new. The sights? Find some closer to you—the United States is large and incredibly geographically diverse. Wherever you are, you’ll find something that lights up the part of your heart that was active during your travels.
Continue learning languages (immersively).
One of my favorite parts of studying in Italy was studying Italian. Since returning, I’ve been disappointed by the sudden lack of immersion in the language. However, recently I’ve begun re-immersing myself, even in the United States. If learning a new language immersively was enjoyable for you, you can do it from home too! Find an online language exchange partner, watch TV in your target language, listen to music from the country you just visited, and read books in your target language.
Explore new local spots around you.
There’s lots to explore even in your own town or city. Make a list of spots near you that you’ve never seen before, call up your friends, and take some after-school visits. It may not be a whole new country, but it’s still new, and it's still an adventure.
Dedicate yourself to a new project or hobby.
There’s adventure in learning something new, whether it’s guitar, painting, cake-baking, or a side-hustle. Write a book, start an online business, get into photography and start posting. There are endless possibilities, and setting a goal to work toward will keep your mind off travel and allow you to progress in another way.
Your study abroad experience was just the beginning of a lifelong love affair with exploration. Embrace the memories, chase new horizons, and continue to let the wanderlust guide you on your remarkable journey.
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I'm Abigail, a junior studying English and music at Macalester College, and I'll be in Milan, Italy for the spring semester. This is my first time leaving the country, and I want to share my experience as a low-income never-traveled-like-this-before student with you. My interests include writing stories, making art, writing music, learning languages, and exploring the outdoors.