After an amazing experience studying abroad for four-ish months, an entire semester filled with ups and downs, great food and sometimes (rarely) not so great food, laughter, tears, and an unprecedented amount of churros, I am once again in the United States and I’ve gotta say: it’s a little underwhelming. It’s difficult to explain.
The best way I can describe coming back from study abroad (for me) is by comparing it to a rollercoaster (or another intense ride at an amusement park if rollercoasters aren’t your thing). So you’re at an amusement park and you’re in the middle of riding a really fun rollercoaster (or other ride) that has lots of twists and turns and everything is very exciting and thrilling for most of your time on that ride and then suddenly, even though you saw the light at the end of the tunnel and knew the end was coming, you’re surprised to see that the ride is over. You disembark but your body is still kind of buzzing from the adrenaline of being on the ride while at the same time your mind is trying to come to terms with the fact that you’re moving at an ordinary, human pace again.
Being back at home after studying abroad is like getting of a rollercoaster. Everything is just so much… slower. In Salamanca, my academic days started at 9:00am, were interrupted in the middle of the day with lunch and a brief siesta at 2:00pm, and could then last until almost 7:00pm when my latest class of the week was dismissed. I ate dinner around 8:30pm and then stayed up a few more hours after that finishing school work and studying (or, honestly, watching Netflix). On the weekends, sometimes IES Abroad took us on fun field trips to other Spanish cities and sometimes I spent the entire time studying at the library. Sometimes I went out for dinner or drinks with friends and sometimes (most times if I’m being honest) I stayed in to relax. One weekend I spent traveling by myself to Northern Spain to experience something new and one weekend
The point I’m trying to make here is that there was definitely a routine, I would not have been able to survive for four months if there was no routine, but this routine was exciting. I had a basic outline of my days and weeks but I had no idea how I would fill the gaps between all of my regular school work. Every week was something different. There were so many opportunities to do something new and fun whether it was going to a cultural exchange night and making new friends or going around the city to see all buildings lit up at night. Being back at home, though I’m happy to see my family and my friends, is kind of boring. I know once school starts again for me this coming week I’ll fall back into a better routine and can fill the gaps with friends and school-sponsored events but it really won’t be the same.
For you who is reading this thinking about studying abroad or is about to go abroad or is currently abroad right now, know this: once you leave, you’re going to be looking back on this semester very fondly and will definitely miss all the exciting things you got to do overseas. But something that has helped me process the transition of being back home and something that I hope helps you with your transition in the future is this: Study abroad is something that will stay with you forever and whenever you remember that adrenaline rush, no matter where you are or how boring it might feel to return to the mundane or how unsatisfied you are with your regular routine, always know that you have the option of getting back in line to go on the rollercoaster again.
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<p>I'm a third year college student excited about seeing everything this amazing planet has to offer. Originally from Oregon, I've slowly been finding my place in the world through travels throughout North America, China, and now Europe! I hope this blog offers advice, inspiration, and a bit of humor for any current and future travelers.</p>