University of Wisconsin–Madison

The Art of Coming and Going

When I decided to study abroad for a year, I didn’t know if I would be able to go home for Christmas. I am really glad I did. I was able to make it back to my hometown for two short weeks, but I didn’t know how hard it would be to leave again. Leaving Galway was surreal. I had a carry-on and my passport and before I knew it, I was with my sister and we were headed home for the holidays.

My mother was waiting for us at the airport and I didn’t realize how much I missed my family until I saw her again. The next two weeks would go by in a blur of reunions. I love my friends and family, and when you only have a short time back at home, it is impossible to make time for everyone. Christmas was amazing and New Year’s Eve was spent with family.

Then, New Year’s Day arrived and with it, my departure. I always hate goodbyes. When you are the one leaving, it seems like the goodbyes are endless, and when you have so many people you care about, it can almost be too much to handle. But, with a tearful farewell at the airport I was back on a plane. After a long red-eye to Dublin and a bus to Galway, it was like the last two weeks never happened. It was hard to get back into a routine.

When you live so far away from your close friends and family, it can feel like your life is split in two. It can be hard to go back and forth between them. There is a day or two when you feel out of place. For me, it takes two or three days to get back in the swing of life on a different continent.

People talk about culture shock, but quick trips between two “homes” can be just as difficult. Maybe it’s a form of culture shock? Reverse culture shock on both ends of my trip? Moving to a different country can be difficult but coming home can be just as challenging.