When I was told at the end of my Paris study abroad experience that I should look out for reverse culture shock and sadness when I returned back home, I thought that the staff was just being extra cautious. I was only in Paris for 6 weeks and had previously been in Costa Rica for 6 weeks, so I did not think that readjusting to my normal life would be too difficult, especially since I had been able to return home between the two programs. However, after I returned home and my normal life caught back up to me, I began to understand the warnings I had been given in Paris. I missed public transportation and the freedom that came along with it. I missed the food I had grown accustomed to eating. Most of all, I missed the excitement that each new day brought while abroad. Returning back to my home Indiana absolutely was an adjustment. In this blog post, I want to talk about how I readjusted to living in the US over the summer and how I'm feeling a few months after my flight from Europe landed in Newark.
The first piece of advice I took to have a smooth return home was to surround myself with family and friends. I loved being able to share all of my stories with them and tell them about all of the different things I was able to experience abroad. Seeing friends and family reminded me of why I love being home and made my return so much easier. They were great people to lean on when I was feeling low. Another thing that helped me was to try and bring some of the culture from the places I visited back to my home. I would cook meals like the ones I had abroad and continue with habits I had made over the course of the semester, like walking more. This made it easier to bring little moments of joy to my life when I was missing the countries I had visited. Finally, one of the most helpful actions I took to feel better after coming home was to stay in touch with the friends I had made while studying abroad. I made many close friends during my Costa Rica trip and would contact them weekly to talk about how we were doing and what we had been up to. I would also FaceTime and text my roommate from Paris to give each other updates on our lives and talk about all of the fun memories we had together.
Overall, I'm so grateful for everything I was able to experience abroad. While there were moments where I greatly missed France and Costa Rica, I'm happy to be back with my friends and family. I realized there were lots of things I missed about the United States while I was abroad, like ordering chips and queso at Mexican restaurants and being able to drive. I'm excited to someday go abroad again in the future, but for now I'm ready to start my junior year here in Alabama and share my experiences with others who will hopefully be inspired to study abroad.