Studying abroad is one of the most amazing experiences you could ever have. You’re pushed out of your comfort zone, you’re (mostly) on your own, and you get the opportunity to live, breathe, and explore so many different facets of another country. While you’re gone, you learn, you grow, and you’ll probably have a fair amount of mishaps and scares along the way as well. It’s life changing and unforgettable, the stereotypical definition of an adventure.
But amidst the complete insanity and wonder of it all, a lot of people tend to gloss over the low that you dip down into upon or shortly after returning home. If your trip or semester is the high, then the low is all of the realities that hit you when you get back to your “real” life. It’s all the things that could’ve marred the experience if you had allowed yourself to dwell on them a little longer while you were away.
It’s everything that you shrugged off or ignored because you were having the time of your life, the things that you didn’t allow yourself to deal with emotionally, the sadness or pain that you shoved deep down because you were in Spain, or England, or Italy, or New Zealand, or wherever you were. It’s the things that creep back into your mind once you’re back home and the high that you experienced abroad starts to wear off.
Because while you were gone, you didn’t allow the engagement of those three friends from high school or the weddings of two college friends bother you. You were too busy taking day trips from Dublin to Galway after all.
And you definitely didn’t think about what you were going to do after graduation, which is now coming up pretty fast. It was absurd to think that you’d be able to look for jobs in the US or effectively check out grad schools on your sometimes sketchy European Wi-Fi.
What about the fact that you’re definitely still super single upon arriving stateside again? Right. You weren’t about to dwell on that sad fact the entire eight hour bus ride to Barcelona. Besides, there were photos to edit and post. That was a better use of your time.
Whatever it may be, it starts to trickle back in after a couple weeks of being back in familiar (and probably now very boring) surroundings. It’s the thing that you think about while you’re suffering through a Christmas Day basketball game with all of your relatives that you haven’t seen in four months. It’s what occupies your mind when your quick shower turns into a half hour pity party. Because when the adventure ends, all of the problems and quibbles that you refused to deal with while you were abroad come back at full force, when you no longer have an excursion, a weekend trip, or just a bag full of cheap chocolate croissants to chase them away.
Of course, that’s not to say that you shouldn’t study abroad, because you definitely should if you have the opportunity. It’s an experience that most people (hopefully everyone) wouldn’t trade for anything else in the world, and those who have done it regularly feel longings to return to wherever they had traveled. You get outside of the little bubble that you may have constructed for yourself, and you appreciate more of the world after having traveled a little. You see the differences, but also the similarities between the world’s people, and you learn to see the beauty in both of those things.
However, people also need to remember that a low always follows a high. Some might use a semester abroad as a form of escapism to get away from the things that ail them or the things that stress them out. That distance can be a good thing, but it’s also worth saying that it’s by no means a permanent solution, because those things are going to come right back once the adventure is over. Thus, a balance needs to be found between getting distance between you and the things that you’re struggling with and simply finding an excuse to run away from it all.
So, yes, study abroad. It will change your life. It will broaden your horizons. It will *insert study abroad cliché statement here.* It’ll probably do all of those things. But you need to keep a holistic view of your time away in mind.
Think about it in the context of the bigger picture, because the wonder can quickly turn into wishing your problems away instead of confronting them if you just push them to the side.