Everyone talks about culture shock when you first arrive in a new country; however, culture shock when you return home is also very real. No matter if you are really excited to return or a little sad, home will feel different after your new experience. Studying abroad is a time when you get to temporarily immerse yourself in a new life. You are surrounded by new people, new food, new norms, and new schedules. It’s exciting and you make a home for yourself within this new life.
When my plane landed back at JFK, I could not wait to drive my car, get my hair dyed, and eat all the food I had been missing, but after the initial adrenalin of returning home wore off, I found myself missing the life I had adjusted to in Ireland. I have been back in the United States for a little under a month now and there are still things that I am readjusting to. During my time in Ireland, I had gotten used to walking or taking public transportation everywhere. Returning to my home for the summer I have had to rediscover living in the suburbs with no access to public transportation. While in Europe, I was traveling to new areas every week. Being home, I have not had the opportunity to travel as much. It took a while to adjust back into everyday life, but having a strong routine has been helpful with the transition home.
Overall, the hardest thing about studying abroad coming to an end was leaving the amazing friends I had made from all over the world. I had eaten dinner every weeknight for three months with girls from the Netherlands and Germany and traveled to surreal places with people I had only known for a few weeks. It was weird to say goodbye to people I had formed strong relationships with not knowing the next time, if ever, I will see them. Luckily, through social media, it has been easy to stay connected with everyone.
After a study abroad, you will return with dozens of new experiences and views of the world. It takes time to process all these experiences and reintegrate yourself with your life at home. It’s important to give yourself time to settle into life back home.