Thoughts From the Plane Ride Home

Helena Haynes
May 13, 2022

I’m writing this post from the plane ride home. In some ways I feel a lot of relief about returning to Pennsylvania and seeing my family and friends in State College. On the other hand, I also feel so incredibly anxious. I feel like I just lived a life that wasn’t real for 5 months, and now I’m waking up from what felt like a dream. It sounds dramatic when I put it like that, but I think most people can agree that being abroad sometimes doesn’t feel like real life. I’ve read other blog posts online and heard from others that have studied abroad, and everyone says that the adjustment coming home is much more difficult than the adjustment you face when you first start the semester. I’ve been thinking about it for the past six hours while I’ve been stuck on my flight, and I’m not sure I’m quite ready for it, but I guess I have to be.

After seeing so much of Europe and getting used to my routine living in a huge city, there’s a sense of dread that comes with going back to my hometown. I don’t want to sound like a negative person, because of course there’s things about going back that I’m excited about, but now that I know the feeling of having the whole world at my fingertips, I never want to let go of it. I guess in some ways that’s what studying abroad is all about. For some people, they may not have loved their study abroad destination, but for me I absolutely loved London, which makes leaving it even harder. I would honestly give anything to go back and relive the whole experience, even with all of the ups and downs that came along with it.

As my pilot has just announced that we’re 25 minutes from landing, I have to tell myself that it wasn’t a forever goodbye to London. I know I’ll be back soon, whether it be just for a visit or possibly even to live there. Who knows! On the bright side, I am excited to see my parents, spend the summer in New York, and start my new internship. I also think that I’ll surprise myself when I get home, and be able to apply everything I learned to my life here in the U.S. 

Everyone has heard the cliché line, “Abroad changed me.” It’s a saying that often gets poked fun at, and has even become the center of various comedy skits and satirical posts. Even though from the outside, people think it’s annoying to hear someone who studied abroad talking about how much the experience impacted them, it really is the truth. From my views on the world, to who I am as a person, I feel like I’ve experienced a level of growth that I never would have had if I was back in Pennsylvania this semester. Even when it comes down to the little things, I feel like I see the world in such a different way. 

I was an independent person before this semester, but I do think the last few months have given me a whole new sense of independence that I never had before. When I’m at Penn State, my family home is so close to campus and my apartment, that it really doesn’t feel like I’m separated. In London, I did everything for myself and I didn’t have the comfort of knowing my parents were just a short drive away. I also see a change in myself when it comes to being less uptight and high strung. I was always so stressed in past semesters, that I found myself being very stuck in my ways and stubborn in certain situations. This semester I found myself being more adventurous, trying new foods I never would’ve tried before, accepting inconveniences that I previously wouldn’t have been able to handle, and facing conflict and stress in new ways. 

All of the things I’ve picked up along the way are what I think will help me get through this upcoming transition. I miss London already, but all good things do come to an end. The appreciation I have for this experience is indescribable, and it’s something that I don’t think anyone understands until they have the experience themself. Yes, studying abroad is amazing for traveling, meeting new people, and taking interesting classes, but above all it changes your perspective on the world for the better, and turns you into a greater version of yourself. If you find yourself on the fence about going, just do it. You will be forever grateful you made the decision, just as I am.

Helena Haynes

<p>Hi there! My name is Helena Haynes and I’m a third year student at Penn State University majoring in Advertising with minors in Information Sciences &amp; Technology and Digital Media Trends &amp; Analytics. I love being involved on campus with things I’m passionate about, and I’ve had the opportunity to serve as President of the Advertising/Public Relations Club, Research/Strategy Co-Lead for our advertising competition team, and as a Print Writer for VALLEY Magazine, a life and style magazine here at Penn State. In my free time you can find me cooking, watching Sex and the City, or spending way too much time on LinkedIn. I’m so excited to be studying abroad in London this semester and I can’t wait to explore the city and learn more about the culture. I hope you follow along on my journey with me!</p>

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