Returning Home: Reacclimating from Your Fun-filled Fever-dream

Mallory Brander
June 1, 2022

So…study abroad is over and it’s time to go home. But what does home really look like? 

The return of iced coffee, vats of queso at your favorite Mexican restaurant, squeezing your dogs for the first time in four months…the list goes on. There may be a lot of little adjustments that you weren’t expecting, and that may throw you off at first. And yeah, noticing these things may make you feel like that girl that studied abroad and won’t shut up about it…but I’m here to tell you that these adjustments, though they may seem small, are valid and you’re really not alone in it.

The first thing that I noticed upon touching down in the Atlanta airport (my layover) was just how much LOUDER Americans really are. All of those stereotypes that I had rolled my eyes at of being the “loud American” suddenly rang true when I had shifted to one of the quietest in the room. Thank God for noise canceling headphones.

I lived in Tulsa, Oklahoma, for 18 years before I went off to college, but the second thing that shocked me occurred while I was driving my Toyota FJ down the road. Everything is So. Spread. Out. Whereas in Amsterdam I would throw a fit if I had to travel more than a couple miles, in Tulsa I routinely drive more than 20 minutes to get from place to place. 

Thirdly, when it comes to going back to your favorite Mexican restaurant and ordering that vat of queso… maybe hold off. Something I noticed IMMEDIATELY was that my stomach would definitely require an adjustment period. Upon getting to the Netherlands, I definitely noticed that food went bad faster, but there wasn’t any bodily response to the LACK of preservatives. But let me tell you…once you get used to that lack, re-introducing them leads to…like I said, an adjustment. So when it came to going to my fave Tex Mex joints and froyo parlors…I held off for about the first week.

And fourthly, to get a little more serious than volume level and Velveeta cheese, you may have changed while you were abroad, and your relationships at home might have as well. Personally, to be completely candid, my parents decided to separate a couple weeks before my return, so I was coming home to a pretty different environment to say the least. It was totally amicable, quick, and painless, but all of that led me to believe nothing would feel all that different. Aaaand I was definitely wrong. Coming home is going to be an adjustment for us all, but what helped me more than anything was the ability to lean on my friends who were experiencing the same thing, and letting myself sit with this period of change. 

As cheesy as it sounds (feels like I preface so many sentences with that in this blog), being abroad really taught me a lot about myself and how I communicate with others. I think that’s thanks in big part to my amazing roommates. While it may be a rocky return to reality and being abroad may feel like an Alice-in-Wonderland-esque fever dream, what has really helped me is sinking into all of my relationships, both at home and with my friends who are still abroad. Thanks to our phones through voice notes, calls, pictures, DMs, texts, and everything short of teleportation, it is easy to stay connected and remain thankful for the wonderful connections that you have in your life both abroad and at home.

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Mallory Brander

<p>Hey everyone! I'm Mallory, a 20 year old originally from Tulsa, Oklahoma. I'm currently a junior at UNC Chapel Hill majoring in Business and minoring in Social and Economic Justice as well as studio art. I'm a people person who loves all things travel so I'm beyond ecstatic to be studying abroad in Amsterdam this spring!</p>

Home University:
University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
Tulsa, OK
Business Administration
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