It has now been two weeks since I arrived home to America. My flight home was a stressful one; one bag too heavy (the shifting of clothing from luggage to luggage followed) three flights, three times going through security, one lightning storm that delayed flights and customs, thus caused one missed flight, the final ticket bought on a plane to Baltimore, a delayed take off, and then two missing pieces of luggage that were sent off to Washington D.C. without me. Sigh. However the stressful experience, staying up for 26 hours straight, was worth it to be in the arms of my family again. (Let’s not repeat that experience again though, okay?)
After one day of sleeping for 15 and a half hours straight, and then the next sleeping only four, I managed to fairly easily adapt to the East Coast Time Zone once again. Waking up to coffee my Mother brewed, reading a book on the couch with my dog at my feet, were all welcome and comforting habits I embraced with open arms.
Within the last two weeks I have managed to do several things I had missed; having family dinner, taking the (nauseating) metro into DC (it will never compare to the U-Bahn and that’s just the truth), going thrift shopping with my sisters at our favorite vintage stores, walking the dog, eating sushi, driving my own car, even shopping for socks at target was an enjoyable activity that I hadn’t partaken in in so long.
I do believe I’ve noticed a change in myself since getting back from my time studying abroad. The social anxiety I have, difficulties talking to waiters, store clerks, or other strangers is no where near as debilitating as it was just five months ago. I find myself yearning to partake in more activities, wanting to go out more. I’ve become restless just sitting at home all day, and am starting to research more fun activities to join, movie screenings in DC or museum walks.
Something I took home with me from Vienna? Over 25 textiles with my designs on them. This past semester I enrolled in the one art class offered through IES Abroad Vienna; Screen Printing. I’ve already looked up the basic materials needed to make your own screens for screen printing and I hope to further that craft because I enjoyed it so much (I would highly recommend this course to any art loving students; there’s only five slots though so act quick!).
Reflecting on my time abroad, I realized that there was a time where I was very sad and unhappy. At the time I was feeling very helpless; unable to make many friends, finding difficulty making meaningful connections, I couldn’t help but feel so frustrated and tired. Being exhausted all the time and solitary was very difficult, but I realize now that it truly was just one of those fazes that can occur when you’re on your own somewhere new. I’d say that those feeling lasted two weeks or a bit more, but after that I persevered and ended up making connections to people I admired, and with whom I formed a strong bond of friendship. I wanted to add this because although we go on and on about how amazing our experiences were (certainly I am guilty of this), there is a lot of adjustment that can really blindside you when you least expect it. All I can really say is that, if you find yourself going through this, try not to become overwhelmed by the negative emotions. Try to find the root of why you’re feeling so bad (over-worked, not enough sleep, not enough human interaction, missing your family), and try your best to counteract this problem. Drinking tea, taking your work slowly, doing something that always cheers you up like watching a television show or going to a museum, going to bed early, FaceTiming your family and discussing your feelings… And when in doubt, take it from me that even the worst emotions will pass with time and you will conquer.
Before we left to come home, there was a talk/question and answer event I went to with some friends as hosted by IES Abroad. Something that was mentioned that I really agree with was this advice – have a concise answer to the question “How was your study abroad experience?/What did you do abroad?” I have been asked three times now to explain how my time abroad was very shortly, and in one situation, in five sentences or less. A challenge I wasn’t exactly prepared for, but people are very content to hear a list of what countries you visited and a pleasant, “Yes I loved Vienna, it’s very beautiful and I had a great time.”
This session with IES Abroad brought up that sometimes you can go through a rut once you get home, feel sad and missing what you once had in your previous home. While I haven’t personally gone through this, I know others who have, and for whom it just takes a longer period of adjustment to truly be happy to be home again. My family is very relaxed; we’re all very similar in an introverted and quiet way. There was no need to catch up to any fast paced life, I luckily had plenty of time to calmly adjust and embrace my Maryland home life again. And I must say, seeing friends from home really is amazing and exciting. It feels even better when said friends bring up how they missed you.
You can never go back to the life that was yours during your study abroad experience. That is no reason to be sad though; it was a once in a lifetime experience that I personally with treasure for the rest of my life. It taught me many things, and changed me as a person. But I am happy to be home, am happy to take the world by storm as a changed person.
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<p>Selina is a Junior Studio Art Major at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. She enjoys long walks in the halls of art museums, eating too many cupcakes, and absorbing the world around her to feed as inspiration for all her creative endeavors. Her specialties lie in taking too many pictures and expressing joy over the little things. Selina is excited to share the beauty she sees all over Vienna during her stay with all who hop on over to her little blog!</p>