September 2nd marks the one year anniversary of my arrival in London to study abroad. I was studying in Leicester, a city to the north, but would be spending a month in London before term officially started. I was excited and terrified the moment I stepped off the plane at London Heathrow, but I also felt like I was home. A strange feeling for someone who had, up until that point, lived in the same state for the majority of her life.
I studied abroad at the University of Leicester, a city tucked away in the midlands near Birmingham and Nottingham. A slower paced city, but a city nonetheless. I immediately fell into step in Leicester. I quickly became attuned to my so-called England life and the more time I spent there, the more I realized that going home would be the hardest thing I would ever have to do. When the day came on January 5th, for me to make my way back to the states, I was a wreck. There was a very public breakdown in the airport (mainly due to some trouble with luggage), and six straight hours of silent crying on the plane ride to New York. I watched the first third of about seven different movies to try and distract myself, but nothing worked. When I arrived in New York City I tried desperately to cheer myself up with Dunkin Donuts, but I made a fool of myself when I tried to pay in pounds and not dollars.
I had absolutely no idea how I was going to adjust to life in the states. I had never truly felt homesick before until I left England, and it was a feeling I didn’t know how to process. Studying abroad is a life changing experience, who I am now a year later is not who I was when I left. So how do you deal with that? How do you come back?
For most people after you study abroad you still have some school left to finish when you come back. I had one semester. In the beginning I found it hard to focus on my school work and getting back into the routine of being just a normal student. Stay focused. Studying and returning to a routine will help keep your mind off the fact that you aren’t jetting off to a new country every weekend and it will help you assimilate back into your daily life.
Keep Being Adventurous
Just because you are no longer exploring a foreign country doesn’t mean you have to stop having adventures. Explore places you have never been to in your home state. Do an activity you have never done before. Go on a spontaneous trip to another state to visit a friend. Adventure and spontaneity doesn’t just exist over seas.
Make a Plan
Do you want to go back? Make a plan. If you want to pursue a graduate degree, think about doing it abroad. Do you speak another language? Teach English in a foreign country. Check out international internship and volunteer programs. Or simply plan a trip to visit your friends. If you start making plans and working to achieve them, then you won’t get stuck in the “but what if I never go back?” rut. Flights leave for all over the world every single day. You just have to be on one of them. People ask me if it gets easier the longer you are back. For me, it hasn’t, but for others it does. I use that as motivation to return. Coming back is hard, but when you think about it, going back is pretty easy.
Where would you like to return to?
photos via Erin Browne