After being back in the United States for 2 weeks, I have noticed several differences in my daily living. But first, I should mention the travel back. Flying from Sevilla, Spain to the States took 14 hours of flying time and 20 hours of total airport/plane time. Because Spain is 7 hours ahead of my hometown, I traveled all on the same day. I left at 1pm on June 16th and arrived home at 11pm June 16th. This caused terrible jetlag (even worse than when I arrived in Spain). You will probably hear someone tell you to sleep on the plane to prevent any weird mind reactions to the changes from night-day. It helps to bring a sleep mask in case the person next to you keeps the window shade open. Also, I found it harder to fall asleep if I had a movie playing on my screen because I would get distracted and forget I needed to be sleeping. Thankfully, my jetlag only lasted about two days and I could sleep most of it off.
The hardest thing about returning home after studying abroad is leaving all of the new friends you made. You will forever have a life in the country you studied abroad in. It will now be a part of your memories until you return. You may also have friends spread throughout the US depending on which program you chose to do. This gives you an excuse to plan road trips! Lastly, you will miss the locals who took you under their wing to make you feel at home in a foreign place.
I will always appreciate my host family and professors who showed me a new culture and expanded my views of the world. Rosa, my housemom in the picture, constantly checked on us and provided anything we needed to feel comfortable in her home. I strongly recommend a homestay if you are looking to learn more of the local language while feeling less like an outsider. I arrived in Spain knowing only beginner-level spanish and Rosa helped me learn much more than I expected. Because she only spoke Spanish, I had to relearn the basics of communication.
Lastly, I would like to mention that returning home may cause different emotions for every student. I was eager to get home to my family, but there were a few challenges I faced after arriving. My luggage was left at one of my connecting airports and I went three days without my things. (Remember to pack any valuables in your carry-on or personal bag). Also, I had to get reaccustomed to the types of foods offered and the daily activities. I was used to walking around 10 miles a day because of the proximity of the city in Spain, but I had to dust off my car keys just to get to the grocery store in America. After getting used to my home again, I have noticed my attention to new things. I pay attention to what foods are super processed now. I also incorporate more daily activity. Studying abroad will change you in ways you can never expect! I strongly recommend traveling at a young age. We're constantly saying, "maybe when I'm older," but traveling doesn't have to wait!
- Julia Kirkland