The final days of the program go by the fastest. You slowly pack away the home that was yours for the past four months and say goodbye to the family you built abroad. Sadness over leaving is mixed with happiness for the memories you have made. None of it is easy. The one thing that makes it easier is knowing you will be returning home to all your friends, family, and possibly a few extremely missed pets.
You’re torn. The farther the distance becomes between you and your home abroad the more you wish you could stay put in the present moment for a little while longer, and simultaneously long to be surrounded by the comfort of your own home.
It is perfectly okay to feel both.
The next few weeks after the end of your program and your return home are a bit rough. You will feel a lot of different emotions… none of which mix well with the copious amount of jetlag and exhaustion you will experience. And if you are like me, returning home for the holidays is anything but a time for relaxation. There is visiting family from all over, catching up with hometown friends who have a million questions about your experience abroad, finishing up holiday errands, and fulfilling those family holiday traditions. There is barely enough time to feel the slightest amount of reverse culture shock as you are thrown into the chaos.
Nevertheless, reverse culture shock is real. It varies in its intensity but still exists. You may find yourself saying “danke” to the man holding the door open for you at the grocery store. It is most likely frustrating to not have the same access to easy, cheap, and fast public transportation in your hometown as you did in your city abroad. You miss the food, the language, and the architecture. It will feel like this for a while, and although the feelings will begin to hibernate for periods of time, they will resurface because an experience like the one you gain while studying abroad sticks with you forever. For now, enjoy your time home and relive your experience by telling every fun, exciting, goofy detail you can to your friends and family.
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<p>My name is Elizabeth Thies and I am originally from Medina, Ohio but I now live in Washington, D.C. as a rising senior at George Washington University studying International Affairs. I am passionate about traveling and learning foreign languages as I speak English and Spanish while learning Russian and German. I also really love staying active and am on GW's Women's Club Volleyball team and am an avid SCUBA diver. Spending time with animals (dogs are my favorite) never fails to make my day! Lastly, I am a huge book geek and am constantly reading my favorite genre of historical non-fiction.</p>