Over the course of the past month, I have made the transition from my semester in London back to life in the United States. Although I was originally quite sad to be leaving London and all of the friends I made over the course of the past semester, I was excited to see my friends and family in Michigan. After a semester of adventures, new experiences, and stepping drastically outside of my comfort zone, I was excited about the prospect of familiarity.
However, I have quickly come to the realization that routine and comfort pale in comparison to the mindset one adopts when abroad. This recognition has proved to be very useful when evaluating my reverse culture shock, and has made work and other necessities easier to cope with.
“Friends, family members, and coworkers – everyone wanted to hear all about my experiences!”
With that being said, one of the most interesting aspects of returning back from abroad has been the influx of questions. Friends, family members, and coworkers – everyone wanted to hear all about my experiences!
When asked about my time abroad, I am always a bit taken aback. How am I supposed to explain an entire semester—and such a formidable one at that—to people who I have not talked to in years? At first I would stumble over my words and reply with an overly enthusiastic, “Amazing!” and proceed to explain every city I was able to visit, with my thoughts on each destination.
However, I realized quite quickly that this method of explanation was not only lengthy, but also failed to capture the entirety of my abroad experience.
“I feel like the most important aspect of my abroad experience is how it affected me as a person”
While it was simply incredible to have the privilege to visit so many different cities and experience such a variety of cultures, I feel like the most important aspect of my abroad experience is how it affected me as a person—I am much more independent and feel like my level of self-confidence has increased significantly. Traveling forces you to step out of your shell and as a result, I’m thrilled with how London has affected me.
More recently, I have begun to answer the “Abroad question” in a much more personal manner. Instead of rushing through explanations of every single thing that I did, I simply chose to pick a few cities that really stood out to me and spend the majority of my time discussing my love for London.
“Traveling forces you to step out of your shell and as a result, I’m thrilled with how London has affected me.”
As a result, I have realized some of the things about my experience that may have seemed fairly insignificant at the time, but are ones that have truly stuck with me — long after taking off at London Heathrow.