A foreign language, unbearably warm weather year round and the aroma of cigarettes everywhere you go is supposed to cause homesickness during the first few weeks of studying abroad.
Europe is everything the United States isn’t, but what if “homesickness” doesn’t hit you until six months later, once you land back stateside?
You’re no longer homesick for your mom’s pasta or the peanut butter you can’t buy overseas. Instead, you’re incredibly nostalgic for every moment you just spent 3,000 miles away from “home.”
Studying abroad is one large vacation filled with minimal time studying English literature, replaced by jet-setting on Ryanair throughout Europe.
It’s the one time in your life you’re allowed to put academics second and social life first so as to become “cultured” and more aware of the world around you for a few months.
From touring the Colosseum in Rome to sailing through the fjord in Norway to dancing until 4 am in a Dublin club, studying abroad only happens once in your life. It’s a six-month vacation where you can’t remember half of the incredible memories you made.
What happens, though, when studying abroad impacts you far beyond your extended vacation? What happens when your experience in Europe clashes with your reality when you are back home and no one seems to understand what you’re going through?
It’s like a reverse culture shock.
Coming back to college should be easy. You’re finally back on campus with your friends, enjoying the holidays with your family and adjusting back to your normal day-to-day activities, which include academics.
Something is holding you back though from enjoying these precious moments, though. You can’t seem to forget what happened to you during the past six months.
You replay the hours upon hours of memories wrapped in your head: dancing after hours at your favorite London club, reading in the Paris bookstore James Joyce used to visit and walking the path to the city center with your flat mates.
Most importantly, you weren’t supposed to fall in love abroad. Whether you fell in love with the Irish boy you kissed at the pub one October evening and Skyped with every day for nearly three years after, or simply fell in love with your host country, it is easy to fall in love while studying abroad. . . .