Advertising
Advertising

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.

Advertising

1.  The Initial Shock Stage

koala_shock_funny

    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

    18022-1280x720

      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.

      Advertising

      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)

      angry-cat-fuuny

        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.

        Advertising

        4. The Substitution Stage

        tumblr_m29xcjzIar1rsrt14o1_500

          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

          cute-animals-little-turtle-looking-out-window-pics

            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.

            Advertising

            6. The Acceptance Stage

            lion-t1

              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

              More by this author

              You Should Never Say These Six Things If You Want To Be Successful At Work The Power And Pitfalls Of Complete Vulnerability 5 Ways to Prepare for Success During Your Senior Year Of College 20 Things Only Children Understand Everyone Makes Mistakes, This Is How You Can Love and Forgive Yourself

              Trending in Leisure

              1 How to Quit Your Job and Travel the World After 40 2 The 25 Best Self Improvement Books to Read No Matter How Old You Are 3 25 Truly Amazing Places To Visit Before You Die 4 30 Fun Things to Do at Home 5 10 Benefits of Reading: Why You Should Read Every Day

              Read Next

              Advertising
              Advertising
              Advertising

              Last Updated on January 15, 2019

              8 Simple Mindfulness Exercises to Bring Peace and Happiness to Your Life

              8 Simple Mindfulness Exercises to Bring Peace and Happiness to Your Life

              In life, we all need to be conscientious of what we are doing. You don’t need to live a life of stress if you don’t want to. You can achieve peace and happiness in life by carefully building mindfulness exercises into your life’s routine.

              Exercising mindfulness isn’t rocket science and as importantly, you can do it. It will, however, take a few tries to get into the groove of things but once you get it, it is like riding a bike, you will never lose it.

              Trust me. It’s in your best interest to learn and put these mindfulness exercises into practice. In this article, I will share with you 8 mindfulness exercises that will help you to boost your energy, vitality and live a more peaceful and happier life.

              Why Is It Hard to Live A Peaceful And Happy Life?

              Our Habitat Has Become Too Technological

              The world has accepted the idea that technology is often the cure for all evil. We have accepted, as a society, that everything technological will make us live a better life without fully investigating the many side effects that modernity brings.

              There are a number of technological side effects that have a tremendous impact on your life that the media rarely tells you about.[1] Some of them include self-harm, economic inequality, having less sex, and even suicide. The global community is becoming less happy because of technology.

              How can anybody live a peaceful and happy life when they are depressed? Technology advancements, ladies and gents, is a major reason for why we are living a poor life because it has infiltrated our lives too much.

              According to my research, Americans spend an average of 8 hours a day looking at the computer screen — The average screen time spent on smartphones alone is about 20 hours per week. That’s a lot! No wonder why living a happy and peaceful life is so difficult these days.

              Too Many People Don’t Want to Unplug

              Americans check their phones an average of 80 times during vacation.[2] Some admit to checking their smartphones 300 times every single day. In countries like Brazil, India and China, the situation is no different.

              The reality is that people are constantly plugged into technological devices and this behavior is literally making people all over the globe fight an inner war with themselves, which consequently makes them very sad. As we know, war is the enemy of peace which won’t make anybody happy.

              Listen carefully:

              We have a global anxiety epidemic because people don’t want to unplug from their smartphones and most people aren’t doing anything to fix it. It is a sad state of affairs but very real. This obsession with technology is turning us into perishable robots who live terrible lives.

              Advertising

              The era of anxiety is here to stay. There is little doubt about it. We can, however, fight back with the best remedy of all — We call it mindfulness!

              Thank God there is an antidote to this whole technological madness. Without further ado, let’s go straight to the mindful exercises.

              8 Mindfulness Exercises to Start Practicing

              There are tons of mindfulness exercises available for you to engage with out there.[3] In the paragraphs below, I will include the best ones I’ve personally tried or have seen my close friends and family members try.

              Are you ready for it? Let’s go!

              1. Pray Daily

              You should pray on a daily basis. Why is that you may ask — Well, because science has told us to do so.

              When people pray, they feel peaceful, almost eliminating anxiety. Worries become secondary, and often gives people energy and hope to cope with the difficulties of life.

              Prayer can make you more confident and focused. Prayer also helps you with self-control, helps to control pain, and can protect you against illnesses and disorders like cancer and high blood pressure. At least, this is what researchers from Harvard Medical School have said.[4]

              Pray. You won’t regret it.[5]

              2. Pay Attention to Your Inner Thoughts

              A lot of people allow themselves to be influenced by their negative thoughts. Be different and resist believing in them. It is a bad habit that can lead to unhappiness.

              By the way, if you do feel this way, chances are high that somebody other than you put these thoughts into your head.

              Here is my secret to combat this cancer — look at things objectively. I bet that if you look at things as they are, you will realize that most if not all of your negative thoughts are only inside of your head.

              Advertising

              If you pay close attention, you will quickly realize that these voices aren’t worth your time. Believe me — Ignoring them and looking at things with objectivity is often the best course of action.

              This article can guide you to beat negative thoughts:

              How to Stop Automatic Negative Thoughts When You’re Overwhelmed

              3. Smile Often

              Smiling will slow down your heart. It will also relax your body because when you smile, your body releases endorphins which in itself has a number of positive benefits for you as a person.

              Smile often! You may want to smile early in the morning, during the day, and late in the evening. It is amazing what happens to you when you decide to smile instead of being grumpy.

              Surrender your problems to a nice smile. You will notice two things. First, most people just don’t which makes them live a miserable life. Second, if you decide to smile often, you will eventually smile unconsciously which is the ideal.

              The moment that you smile unconsciously, you then know that you are truly happy.

              4. Organize Your Working Desk

              A messy desk will make you less productive and can agitate and overstimulate you. You don’t want that.

              When you clear your desk, you engage in deep inner-thinking and your systematic decision making ends up becoming therapeutic.

              Most people realize that they are most creative when their creative space is clean and organized. The former often makes people more aware of what they are doing which lends to less stress and more productivity.

              Organizing your desk will also make you more energetic and focused because order often decreases chaos which is a condition that often slows down daily progress.

              Advertising

              5. Celebrate Your Friend’s Victories

              I love this mindful exercise. One of the best ways to live a happy and peaceful life is to celebrate the victories of others. When you do that, you automatically make your friends in a better mood which makes you in a better mood, as well.

              Happiness is contagious! We might as well celebrate others as much as we can. If you find out that your peer has won an award, celebrate with him! If your friend is the recipient of a local charity award, celebrate with her!

              What is also awesome is that when you celebrate with others, they often celebrate with you in return. This, ladies and gentleman, will make you feel fantastic. You can’t go wrong with this one, period.

              6. Listen to Your Spouse/Partner

              God put someone in your life for a reason. You might as well listen to him or her.

              I listen to my wife everyday. In fact, I often ask the following question to her, “Amanda, what are your thoughts about…” or “What am I missing about…” It is shocking what I hear back from her. Without her having much context and perspective, by the art of observation in my own nonverbal behavior and the behavior of others, she accurately gives me incredible insights which helps me out with living my life to the fullest.

              I’m a firm believer that spouses are supposed to engage in interpersonal communication every day. I most definitely do and will continue doing it. You should do the same.

              7. Give Yourself a Break from Technology

              You can’t be in total equilibrium if your computerized devices control your life. You must get away from technology on a daily basis.[6]

              How do you do that? This is my formula:

              First, go to my website (find my website here in my profile) and take the smartphone control test. It is only ten questions but this test will place you somewhere in the human robot cycle continuum.

              If your score is between 25-30, take a break from the computer (or smartphone, pad, laptop/desktop) every twenty minutes and stop being on a computerized device after 8:00pm.

              If you score between 30-35, still take a break every 20 minutes but stop being on these devices at 5:00pm.

              Advertising

              If you score more than 35, you need to take action immediately.

              Limit computer use as much as possible throughout the day. Give yourself as many breaks from the computer as possible. Are you ready for the challenge?

              8. Go Exercise

              Go exercise at least three times a week. I don’t care if you need to workout early in the morning, late in the evening, on the weekends or during work days. Working out is absolutely imperative for you to live happy and peaceful life.

              The stresses of the modern world are too much for you to neglect this important mindfulness exercise. When you go to the gym, you burn calories, focus on activities one step at a time, your mind relaxes, anxiety decreases, you sweat and often think about topics unrelated to your work place among many other benefits.

              You must exercise at least three hours each week for optimum results. Why? Just take a look at all the benefits of regular exercising:

              12 Benefits of Regular Exercise You Should Know

              The Bottom Line

              It’s in your best interest to learn and put these mindfulness exercises into practice. Now that our habitat has become too technological and many people just don’t want to unplug, engaging in daily prayer, celebrate your friends’ victories, and listening to your spouse are among the best ways to be mindful about what you are doing and how you are living.

              It is possible to live a happy and peaceful life. It only depends on you.

              Go exercise! Take a break from technology and invest in you! Life is too short for distractions.

              More Resources About Mindfulness

              Featured photo credit: Lesly Juarez via unsplash.com

              Reference

              Read Next