Coming home can be a time of mixed emotions for a lot of people. Leaving the culture, food and friends you’ve grown accustomed to while abroad can actually be a lot harder than you think. Here are some tips for making the transition back to your native culture easier.
Don’t be afraid of giving yourself a few days just to recuperate — Chances are, you’re going to be jet-lagged after your return. Couple this with having been accustomed to a completely different diet, culture and possibly environment and your body is probably going to be a bit confused, maybe even a little weak. Take it easy the first few days you’re back, it’ll make your transition easier and you’ll be happier.
Don’t try to do everything at once — I’m sure that all your family and friends miss you just as much as you’ve missed them over these past months, but take a moment to let yourself adjust before you schedule the coming home parties. As I was a student who was under a 24-hour language pledge, it actually took me a bit to readjust to the American style of socialization of conversation and the prospect of having to make small talk with strangers actually caused me a bit of anxiety, as it’s not very similar to the Chinese way of communicating at all.
Don’t get too adventurous with your food choices — Often times your gut “flora” can change while you’re abroad, and now that you’re back you may have noticed some of your taste preferences have changed too. Being in China, I wasn’t accustomed to eating refined grains and red meat on a regular basis, so when I came home and gorged myself on tacos, spaghetti and pizza, lets just say my tummy wasn’t very happy. Stick to foods similar to what you would eat when you were abroad, and as always, pace yourself and drink tons of water.
Create a stress-free environment for yourself — coming back home is a lot of pressure on your body AND your mind and I often found myself easily overwhelmed with some of the easiest of tasks. Cut yourself some slack and know that there will be some bumps as you adjust back to life in the States.
Hope these tips help and welcome back home IES semester students!
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<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">Alexis Cobau is a Junior at the University of Michigan, majoring in Chinese and International Studies with a concentration in International security, cooperation and norms. She is excited to be returning to China for the first time since her original foray into study abroad in Harbin, China on an NSLI-Y State Department scholarship as a rising senior in High School. This will be her sixth year studying Chinese and she can't wait to spend it exploring Beijing. When not practicing her Chinese characters and tones, Alexis enjoys reading, writing, drawing and cooking.</span></p>