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The 6 Stages You Go Through After Returning From Study Abroad

The 6 Stages You Go Through After Returning From Study Abroad

Even before I’d decided to study abroad this summer, I knew what I was getting myself into. All my friends had enrolled in semester-long study abroad programs in countries ranging from England and France to Thailand and Japan before me; and I’d watched all of them return the same way – upset, wistful, and of course, seeking comfort by swapping stories with other friends who’d studied abroad.

At first though, I didn’t get it. I scoffed at them, rolling my eyes whenever someone mentioned how something wasn’t “the same” as it was where they’d been. “There’s got to be something here that’s at least similar,” I would say, but to no avail. They were convinced otherwise.

It wasn’t until I returned from London that I finally understood what they were saying. Coming back, nothing felt the same. Even Angry Orchard couldn’t satisfy my cider ale cravings quite like a Koppalberg could. I apologized to my closest friends who I’d openly mocked, confessing they were right. I was wrong. Studying abroad had taken its toll.

Now, before I go into the six stages I, and most everyone who’s studied abroad, went through after returning, I want to say that this is not by any means meant to discourage anyone from studying abroad. I think, if anything, the feelings I went through after were telling of how incredible the experience was; and it was the experience of a lifetime. So don’t think it’s all bad because it’s not – that’s only the nostalgia you feel afterward, you know, in addition to other things.

Here are the six emotional stages you will likely go through after returning from study abroad.

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1.  The Initial Shock Stage

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    This first hit me when I’d arrived in the boarding area for my flight going back to California. After a nightmarish morning involving a high-priced taxi, its sailor-mouthed driver, and several road closures, I’d practically collapsed into the nearest vacant seat I could find. Even in my exhaustion and relief, this stage came in one big wave as I looked out the window to the rainy day outside and realized it was really over. I was returning home.

    For most of my friends though, this stage came later on when they arrived back home. We all underestimate it, but returning to a familiar place after adjusting to a foreign one is surprisingly pretty difficult. It’s almost like picking up a sport after years of being out of practice. You know the movements and techniques, but it feels different the second time around. That’s when you realize it’s because you’re different, which leads me to my second point.

    2. The Depression Stage

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      Unlike many of my friends, this stage came full-force when I boarded the plane heading back to LAX. I must have looked as pathetic as I felt to the couple seated in my row. Sitting in the window seat, I pouted and sighed the entire flight over in between gulps of sparkling wine and non-stop scrolling through 900 pictures worth of trip memories. Yeah, it was pretty dramatic.

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      The next week following my return proved to be just as much, too. I felt like crying even at the mention of London, and actually did on some occasions. Considering it was my first time ever traveling outside the country, I guess I should have expected the intense reaction.  After all, it was a huge cultural shock, but one I’d come to love.

      For those who’ve studied abroad, the hardest part about coming back is going through the depression stage. I mean, think about it, if you were in a completely new country exploring the area and going on adventures almost every day, you’d be depressed too to come back to the same old place and things you’ve been doing you’re entire life. Maybe I’m just spoiled, but that’s the way I see it.  However, while I’ll say this stage is the hardest for those who have studied abroad, I think the next stage is the hardest for those who have to be around you. Mom and Dad, take this as my formal apology for the following stage on this list.

      3. The Tantrum Stage (a.k.a I Hate Everything Stage)

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        Oh boy is this one scary. For a while following the Depression Stage, I went through an anger phase, crossing my arms and turning my nose to anything and everything Californian. Even talking to people who expressed a love of the area was followed by an inner-scoff and immediate disinterest. It was snooty, yes, but I couldn’t help it. All I wanted to do was be back in London; and believe me, it showed.

        My poor parents tried on several occasions to remind me how fortunate I was to live in the area we lived in. My mom even went to the extent of trying to find London-specific things nearby, but her efforts were only met with my tantrum-like response of “it’s not the same!” The thing is though, after a while of feeling angry over the fact nothing is and will ever be the same, you start to get sick of having such a pessimistic mindset. That’s when I finally took my mom’s offer of searching for London-like things near home, which only brought me into the next stage.

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        4. The Substitution Stage

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          Expect to do a lot of research when this stage hits. For about a good week to two weeks time, I went on a near manhunt for anything closely resembling food, activities, or places I’d found in London. I think at one point I spent about two hours on the internet searching for local pubs and stores selling any and all England-specific products. The inner investigator in me had finally surfaced.

          Anywhere I went soon turned into a scavenger hunt. Copious amounts of cheese, baguette bread, cider ale, prosecco, and Indian food were purchased in addition to watching several hours worth of Tudors. And for a time there, I was content with the replacements. They made me feel as though I was still back in London, minus the brownstone buildings and pretty much everything else. However, like all transitional stages, this one soon came to a close when I came to the realization that nothing could replace my experience in London. It was true. Nothing would be the same.

          5. The Realization Stage

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            You could say this stage is almost a lapse back into the Depression Stage, but followed more so by the fact you’ve come to terms with the idea nothing will be the same where you are as it was when you were abroad. The realization stage came suddenly when a friend from my trip sent me a Snapchat of her drinking a Thistly Cross (a cider beer we all tried while visiting Edinburgh) at a bonfire in her hometown. Seeing the picture took me back to that moment when my study abroad course classmates and I were doing the same thing, but together; and that’s when I realized the substitutions could never replace the original. That’s also when I realized I didn’t want to replace the original, which quickly led me into the sixth and final stage of my return back from study abroad.

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            6. The Acceptance Stage

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              It was a long and difficult process to get to this stage, but I’d finally reached it. After weeks of depression, anger, endless searches to find bits of London in the whole of California, and tears, lots of them, I’d accepted the fact that what I experienced there could not be found here; and I was okay with that.

              There’s a certain magic you experience somewhere or at some time or with someone that can’t be relived again, or at least will be different the second time around. The best example I can think of, is that it’s like going to Disneyland as an adult when the last time you went was as a kid. When you’re young, you see things differently. Everything seems brighter, more wonderous, and way more enchanting than it does when you’re older. As an adult, I can say I think I prefer my child-like vision of Disneyland to the Disneyland I visited several months ago.

              But when you come to this stage, you also come to understand something about studying abroad you didn’t fully recognize before – it’s meant to be temporary, and that’s what makes it so special. It’s in our human nature to make the most of an experience when we know it has an expiration date on it; and that’s exactly what I, and all my study abroad friends, did. We made the most out of the time we were given.

              Will I do something similar to it again? I don’t know, but what I do know is that nothing can replace the things, the place, and of course the people I met while abroad. Like I said earlier, it was the experience of a lifetime, but I realize I have many more ahead of me.  After all, I’m still pretty young, and it’s safe to say the bright-eyed kid in me isn’t done growing up just yet.

              Featured photo credit: … via flickr.com

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              Last Updated on November 18, 2020

              50 Habits of Highly Successful People You Should Learn

              50 Habits of Highly Successful People You Should Learn

              If you’re like me and really into self-development, you’ve probably read many of the thousands of self-help books out there on the market. But also like me, you probably find all the information a bit overwhelming.

              That’s why I wanted to do the self-less task of taking the most important, life-changing lessons I’ve drawn from these books and condensed them into 50 key points.

              Here’re 50 habits of successful people you should learn:

              1. Believe It to See It

              Our minds tend to focus on what’s happening around us and refuse to see what could happen. Only when you trust in what’s possible and dare to dream big, big things can happen for you.

              2. See Problems as a Wonderful Gift

              While others only see problems and give up, successful people use the problem as a lesson to find improvement in themselves or the task at hand.

              3. Keep Looking for Solutions

              Even if they’re knee-deep in problems, successful people will still put all of their focus on finding solutions.

              4. Remember It’s All About the Journey

              Successful people are conscious and methodical in creating their own success. They don’t sit around doing the bare minimum, hoping success finds them.

              5. Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway

              There’s so much fear on the road to success, but instead of letting that fear control and limit them, successful people do a good job of just forging ahead regardless.

              6. Always Ask Productive Questions

              It’s all about asking the right questions. Successful people make sure they are questions that will elicit information for a more productive, creative and positive mindset moving forward.

              7. Understand the Best Waste of Energy Is Complaining

              Successful people know that choosing to see the negative side of things will only create a useless and unproductive state.

              8. Don’t Play the Blame Game

              Taking responsibility for actions and outcomes is a form of empowerment that you can build your success upon. While the act of blaming others or outside circumstances takes this empowerment away from you.

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              9. Maximize Your Strengths

              Not every successful person is simply more talented than the rest, but they do use what they know they’re good at to achieve more successful results.

              10. Be in It to Win It

              Successful people are busy, productive and proactive. Instead of sitting around over-thinking and over-planning a great idea, they just take a step towards it no matter how small.

              11. Know That Success Attracts Success

              People who are successful surround themselves and seek out like-minded people. They understand the importance of being part of a team and forge win-win relationships.

              12. Actually Choose to Be Successful

              Dreaming big is a massive part of being successful even if your dream seems impossible. Ambition is a mindset that needs to be a daily conscious choice.

              13. Visualize, Visualize, Visualize!

              You’ve got to see your success in your mind’s eye even before it comes. Successful people clarify and get that certainty about what they want their reality to look like rather than being mere spectators of life.

              14. Be a One-Off Original

              Successful people look for what’s working and then create a unique spin on it. Imitating only regurgitates other people’s ideas with no originality.

              15. The Perfect Time to Act Is Now

              Waiting for the right time to act is basically procrastination wrapped up in an excuse. Successful people know there’s never a perfect time so they may as well just do it now.

              16. Keep Learning, Keep Growing

              Continuous learning is the key to a successful life. Whether it’s academic, being a student of life or actionable learning, it’s all about expanding your knowledge and personal development.

              17. Always Look on the Bright Side of Life

              Successful people have the knack for finding positive aspects in all people and circumstances no matter what.

              18. Having a Bad Day? Do It Anyway!

              We all have bad moods but it shouldn’t be an excuse to stop everything. Giving into a bad mood just stop-starts your life, slowing success way down.

              19. Sometimes Risky Business Is Needed

              Calculated risks are a must for success. It’s about weighing the pros and cons while moving forward with that element of trust.

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              20. Accept Challenge All the Time

              Dealing with problems head-on is a must to be successful. Successful people also face challenges in order to improve themselves.

              21. Make Your Own Luck

              In the mindset of a successful person, there’s no such thing as ‘luck’ or ‘fate’. They take control to actively and consciously create their own best life.

              22. Ignite Your Initiative

              While many people are reactive, successful people are proactive – taking action before they have to.

              23. Be the Master of Your Emotions

              Being effective at managing emotions is key on the road to success. That’s not to say successful people don’t feel like we all do, but they’re just not slaves to their emotions.

              24. Champion in Communication

              Consciously working on effective communication skills gets anyone closer to success.

              25. Plan Your Life Strategically

              Successful people’s lives aren’t a clumsy series of unplanned events and outcomes, they methodically work at turning their plans into a reality.

              26. Become Exceptional at What You Do

              To become exceptional, you typically have to do things that most won’t. To become successful, hard decisions need to be made and acting on them is crucial.

              27. Choose to Live Outside of Your Comfort Zone

              While many people are pleasure junkies and avoid pain and discomfort at all costs, successful people understand the value and benefits of working through the tough stuff that most would avoid.

              28. Live by Core Values

              Successful people firstly identify their core values and what’s important to them, then do their best to live a life that reflects these values.

              29. Realize Money Isn’t Everything

              Money and success are not interchangeable and the most successful people understand this. Putting money on a pedestal and equating it to success is a dangerous mindset to have. Success comes in many forms.

              30. Don’t Get Carried Away

              Successful people understand the importance of discipline and self-control and as a result they are happy to take the road less travelled.

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              31. Self-Worth Is Not Tied to Success

              Successful people are secure. They do not derive their self-worth from what they own, who they know, where they live or what they look like.

              32. Kindness Breeds Kindness (And Success)

              Generosity and kindness is a common trait among long-term successful people. It’s important to take pleasure in helping others achieve.

              33. More Humility, Less Arrogance

              Successful people are humble and happy to admit and apologize for mistakes. This is because they’re confident in their ability. They are happy to learn from others and happy to make others look good rather than seek their own personal glory.

              34. Change Opens New Doors

              People who are successful are adaptable and embrace change, while the majority are creatures of comfort and habit. They are comfortable with, and embrace, the new and the unfamiliar.

              35. Success Requires a Healthy Body

              It’s not just how you think, it’s about how you show up for success. Successful people understand the importance of being physically well, not for vain reasons but because being in tiptop condition creates a better personal life for success.

              36. Laziness Just Doesn’t Exist

              Successful people are never considered lazy. Yes, they can relax when they need to, but working hard is their game.

              37. Resilience by the Bucket Load

              When difficulty strikes, most would throw in the towel, but successful people are just warming up.

              38. Feedback Is Just Another Chance to Improve

              How people react to feedback determines their potential for success. Being open to constructive criticism and acting on it to improve is most seen in those who are successful.

              39. Your Vibe Attracts Your Tribe

              If people are hanging out with toxic and negative people, then they need to take a look at themselves. Successful people hang out with others who are positive and supportive.

              40. Can’t Control It? Forget It

              Successful people don’t invest time or emotional energy into things which they have no control of.

              41. Swim Against the Tide

              Successful people are not people-pleasers and they don’t need constant approval from others in order to move ahead.

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              42. Alone Time Is Valuable Time

              More self-worth means being more comfortable with your own company. Successful people are more happy and see the value in spending time alone.

              43. Self-Standard Is Higher Than Most

              Everyone has a choice to set high standards for themselves. Successful people do this, which in turn produces greater commitment, more momentum, a better work ethic and of course, better results.

              44. Failure Isn’t Rationalized

              While many use age, health, lack of time, ‘bad luck’, or lack of opportunity to explain away their failure, the key to success is finding a way to succeed despite facing these challenges.

              45. Down Time Is an Important Part of a Routine

              Having an off switch and taking time to do things that make them happy is a common trait of a successful person. Take a look at here The Importance of Scheduling Downtime.

              46. Career Isn’t Who You Are, It’s What You Do

              Successful people know their career isn’t their identity. They are multi-dimensional and don’t define themselves by their job.

              47. Be Interested in Only the Path of Resistance

              While most people look for the easiest way or the shortcut, successful people are more interested in the most effective way. They look for the course of action which will produce the best results over the long term.

              48. Follow Through

              Many spend their life starting things that they never finish, but successful people get the job done. Even when the excitement and the novelty has worn off they still follow through and finish.

              49. Invest in All Your Dimensions

              We’re not just physical and psychological beings, but emotional and spiritual creatures as well. Successful people consciously work at being healthy and productive on all levels.

              50. Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

              To obtain success, it’s important to practice what you preach. Successful people don’t talk about the theory, they live the reality.

              So there you have it, a summary of what I’ve learned from self-help books. But of course, you need to start taking actions so you will get closer to success too.

              Bonus: 5 Bad Habits To Quit

              More About Success

              Featured photo credit: Juan Jose via unsplash.com

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