Art by Sybil Zhang
“When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life.” No sentence proved more true than this one by the 18th-century British writer Samuel Johnson during my semester in this marvelous city. My experience in London was marked by adventure and self-discovery to an extent I had never experienced before. From nights out on the town at Piccadilly Circus to evening strolls through Hyde Park to spontaneous adventures on the Tube, London seemed to afford everything one could want.
It is understandable, then, to imagine the culture shock that awaited me upon my return to Pepperdine. I was once again without a car and living in a dorm, unable to go on adventures on a whim and experience a foreign culture as I previously had. Moreover, I was unable to satisfy the insatiable appetite for adventure I had acquired in London.
It soon occurred to me, however, that this sense of shock and re-acclimation is something common among returning abroad students, yet is seldom talked about or acknowledged. It is necessary, therefore, to remember that having trouble readjusting after having studied abroad is completely normal, and that the experience of being abroad is just the beginning of a lifetime of adventure and discovery.
It’s normal to feel nostalgic for the carefree abroad days, or to feel unenthused at the prospect of being away from the excitement of International Programs. Whatever the case, the most important thing to remember is that everyone returning from abroad is in the same boat. Each of us are going through a whirlwind of emotions. They, too, are witnessing the long-dormant fountains running at long last, confused by the new library layout, and getting used to sharing the campus with a new crop of underclassmen they are meeting for the first time. It is only natural, then, to feel a bit out of one’s element at first.
It’s also perfectly natural to feel a bit of melancholy once back from abroad. Returning students are fresh off some of the greatest times of their lives and suddenly away from the sense of independence they enjoyed. It’s important to remember that the adventure isn’t over. Keeping in mind that this is only the beginning of a great journey allows one to better appreciate their experience and look forward to the next escapade.
Despite no longer living and studying halfway across the world, these returners are still college-aged young adults in the very prime of life, with many new adventures waiting ahead. Instead of feeling down, let the abroad experience encourage living out the lessons learned while abroad: Live to the fullest, go off the beaten path and expand cultural barriers.
“Manage to perpetuate those same magical (abroad) feelings forms long as possible” according to Gabriella Craft’s article “Beating the Post-Florence Blues,” published Nov. 6, 2014 in The Florentine. Allow this great adventure to light a spark inside that wasn’t there before.
It’s normal to feel out of one’s element upon returning from studying abroad. Students who go abroad leave wide-eyed, inexperienced collegians and return cultured citizens of the world. “The experience … comes and goes, but the way [you] feel and look at things now will last forever,” according to Beth Saunders’ article, “The Post-Erasmus Depression,” published Feb. 1, 2013 in Verge Magazine,
So don’t feel alone or sulk for times gone by. Let the lessons learned be the catalyst for a lifetime of adventure and discovery.
Follow Jake Amble on Twitter: @JakeAmble1