Getting back home was a bit of an adventure. My flight was delayed 2.5 hours, causing me to almost miss my connection back to New York. By some miracle, I made it through customs in Dublin and boarded my plane. Upon arrival I was exhausted, and shocked at just how different things were back home. The main thing being air conditioning/circulation and readjusting to less daylight. Aside from the rush of delayed flights and jet lag, reality set in that I was back in the states, and no longer with my abroad group. I was in the unique position where this was my last course of undergrad, and I met the majority of people on this trip in Denmark. Little did I know that I would come out of this experience with new friendships and a series of spontaneous adventures. Whether it was taking a casual trip to Sweden, an unhealthy amount of trips to get pasta, or even a three country weekend excursion. These are the memories that will last a lifetime, and I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to experience it all.
I’ve done a bit of travel within the states, and this wasn’t my first time abroad. However, I experienced many different cultures and met new people. Just chatting up locals and hearing their stories, traditions, and recommendations really hammered in just how diverse the world is. Everyone has a different background and comes from a different part of life. Abroad, I was exposed to a lot of this between the tourists and the natives. I have a newfound appreciation for the arts and history after this trip. There’s so much that gets glossed over here, that experiencing it in real life puts it more into perspective. I’ve changed in the sense of digging deeper into the little things.
There was a sense of reverse culture shock coming back. I started to realize the little things that I had missed. Whether it was having a store like Target to conveniently grab miscellaneous goods, the comfort of knowing exactly what food I was ordering, and no longer facing a language barrier. The second I got back into a car, I remembered just how nice it was to be able to drive myself wherever on my own schedule. However, public transportation abroad is very efficient and something I wish was better utilized here in the states.
To future students that plan to go abroad, go out of your comfort zone. Don’t be afraid to say yes and go on some random excursion. Go in with a general idea of what all you have to do, but be flexible. Do your research ahead of time, brace yourself for flight delays, download maps (and Netflix) offline, and keep the important belongings in your carry on. Also, if you’re going to Europe in the summer, it will be hot. Most places do not have air conditioning, and it will be an adjustment. I’d also recommend staying in a hostel at some point. This is a great opportunity to meet other travelers and get a lot of information about the city you are in. Make sure that you relish in the opportunities and new experiences available, but also know when to take time for yourself. One night after working on a lab report in a cafe, I decided to go to a movie by myself to take a personal breather. It’s important to take time for yourself and do something familiar and relaxing, so as to not get too overwhelmed. There will be times of frustration when you can’t easily do something like you would at home or your plans don’t work out the way you expected, and that’s completely acceptable. There will be difficulties, feelings of home sick, and a desire to go back to familiarity. Thus, find the little things that make you happy and comfortable, to keep your time abroad positive.
Attached is my attempt at being crafty with some mementos from my trip. Thanks for reading, and Roll Tide!