Beating the post-travel blues
Louise is studying French at the University of Glasgow and spent her year abroad as a British Council Language Assistant in Tarnos in the South West of France. Coming home after a year abroad can be tough so here are Louise's top 5 tips for fighting off those post-travel blues.
It’s the part of travelling that nobody really talks about: the inevitable coming home. Once the excitement of seeing friends and family dies down and you start noticing eye-rolls when you start a sentence with “when I was in (insert exotic travel location here)...” you can be left feeling a bit deflated. The post –travel blues happen to everyone. The thing is that everything you experienced and saw during your time away is only truly real to you and you alone. To everyone else it is all just a collection of anecdotes that they quickly move on from. Your year abroad will have changed you and your outlook, and that is personal to you. When I first arrived home from my year abroad in France the culture shock was so surprising to me that at times it almost felt as though I was looking back on a dream. Of course I was happy to be ‘home’ but it didn’t feel quite like I had imagined it would. I missed the friends, the job, the lifestyle (and the weather!) that I had left behind. Coming home after a year abroad can be tough so here are my top 5 tips for fighting off those post-travel blues.
1. Pat yourself on the back!
First off: Well done! You have accomplished something absolutely amazing and unique which so many people never ever do. You have lived abroad for a whole year; you have actually survived and thrived in a different country! That. Is. Amazing! So firstly give yourself a huge pat on the back (I mean it, do it now) for this achievement. Don’t just move straight on to getting bogged down in the next challenge, the next hill to climb. Rest on those laurels a while and just take the time to really congratulate yourself. Only you know the challenges you overcame and the lessons you learned this year but one thing is certain: you have a lot to be proud of. Reminding yourself of this is a huge confidence booster will help you to take every step as it comes as you return home.
2. Be of Service
Whatever you do, get out of the house! It is so easy to sink into a slump when you first get home and the best thing to do about it is get busy. Remind yourself that there are still experiences for you to enjoy and people for you to meet right where you are. Volunteering or working for a cause that you are passionate about is a great way to keep yourself distracted from those blues, while meeting different people and feeling good about yourself while making a difference.
3. Don’t live in the Past
As tempting as it is to relive the good times you have had on your year abroad at every opportunity, try to limit this as time goes on. Your friends will thank you for it, (see ‘eye roll’ reference above!) but also this constant reminiscing will inevitably lead to feeling low. I suggest channelling this into a focus on creating new memories, on enjoying the here and now, and making fun plans for the future. Try to look at where you are currently living with the same eyes as you had during your travels. Try to look at where you are now as something really exciting to discover. Even if you have lived there before or even grown up there, if travelling teaches you anything it is that you have never really “done” a place.
4. Connect and re-connect
People change in a year whether they have taken a year abroad or not. Take this time to reconnect to those people who have been tough to keep up to date with on your travels and see what’s new with them. Equally, setting up a conversation group for the language you are studying is a great way to meet new people and keep up your language progress. You may even meet people native to the country where you spent your year abroad.
5. Accept missing ‘Home’
Finally, accept that your idea of ‘home’ might have changed while you have been away and that is just a testament to how great a job you did of really integrating into the place you were living. It is a perfectly natural response so give yourself some free reign to feel a bit sad about it sometimes. Beating yourself up with negative thoughts like “I shouldn’t be feeling like this” will not make it any easier so be kind towards yourself, you deserve it! You have proved on your year abroad how adaptable you can be to new environments and challenges so remind yourself that just as the homesickness you may have felt while away did pass, so will your missing your year abroad.