I don’t have a fancy introduction for you this time. I don’t even have a long drawn out blog for you today. What I do have for you are a few reflections (for the last time) as I sit in my favorite coffee shop blocks away from my house and over 4,000 miles away from Denmark.
Immersing yourself in a completely different culture for a long period of time is one of the biggest jumps you can make as a young adult. It is. You leave your friends and your family behind and cross your fingers they’ll miss you enough to be excited when you get back months later. You make new friends, maybe even new family members, and some of the lucky ones fall in love. You live in a new place, you eat new food, maybe you speak a new language, and overall, you live a completely different life.
And then you come home. Some of my fellow study abroad peers might disagree, so I will say this is 100% my opinion… Coming back home is an even bigger jump.
You thought you had culture shock when you got to a new country and heard a new language and started riding a train everyday instead of driving or rode a bike through bike-friendly streets…
Wait till you get back home and you can suddenly understand what everyone around you is saying (or shouting) and you are behind the wheel of a car again on streets where bike lanes are rare and narrow if they’re there.
Wait until you realize that while you were off having your adventure, life back home went on as normal. Things changed and things stayed the same. It feels like you never left, but it also feels like you’ve been gone forever. It feels like the whole you left was filled or somehow managed by the people in your life. They adjusted to your absence and now the readjusting period begins.
Let’s leave home out of the equation for a minute. What about your new home. What about where you studied abroad? Suddenly, your study abroad friends aren’t a fifteen minute train ride away anymore, but a five hour flight or a 28 hour car ride. The roommate you spent every minute with is hours away. If you lived with a host family… You miss them. They became your family. They watched you grow and immerse yourself. Heck, they helped you become part of their culture. And then you left.
So you’re missing all of these people and all of these places that you just left behind. It’s like a hole you don’t know how to deal with. And then, everyone wants to see you. If you’re like me, you spent most of your life reaching out to people around you, forming friendships left and right…. all of those people want to hear about your adventures. But you don’t really want to talk about them. They’re still so fresh in your mind… they don’t feel like memories yet. They still feel like they should be happening.
Everyone wants to see you. I think this is what I’m starting to struggle with the most. I love my friends and my family, I love my kids at dance. But, for some reason, it’s overwhelming to think of people rushing at you, hugging you and telling you how much you were missed and how they can’t wait to hear about your trip. It’s overwhelming because you do it over and over and over again.
So. I’ve been cleaning my room. Since Sunday. Why? I hate cleaning. Because it’s calming to be alone and think and adjust.
It’s ok to be alone when you get back. It’s ok to not want to be hanging out with someone every single second after you get off your flight. You need time by yourself. People around you might not understand it, but you need it. For your sanity. You need to take things one day at a time.
That’s all folks. That’s my very last study abroad blog.
I’d just like to say thank you. Thank you for reading. I know I can trail on and on and my thoughts jump around pretty frequently… It takes a special person to read something that I’ve written from start to finish.
Vi ses venner.
Tak fa alt.