Welcome back: Readjusting to life back home

Welcome back: Readjusting to life back home Burst your bubble... by tlindenbaum

This article was written by Gina Reay & Tilly Ingleby, published on 2nd September 2010 and has been read 22483 times.

Anyone who has embarked on a study abroad programme will tell you it was the best semester/year of their life that they’re stronger for the experience and have returned home with a ton of amazing memories. But coming back home can be as tough as your first few weeks away.
"Having spent the best part of a year apart from my parents, sisters, boyfriend and school friends, I felt fairly ready to move back home after an exotic year of foreign debauchery and professional paradise in Paris and Rome. Despite having enjoyed the 12 months profusely I thought it was time to head back to the normality of Yorkshire tea, Sunday roasts and a daily hug from mum. However it wasn’t as easy as I expected...The excitement of heading home seemed to cloud any underlying apprehension that I would miss my high-flying, capital city lifestyle. Having visited London only twice before in my life, I was, in the words of Journey, a small town girl. So who would’ve thought I’d become so accustomed to big city life: sipping cosmopolitans on a Saturday night, shopping down the Champs-Elysées and jumping on the metro to meet friends for coffee in Trastevere. Strangely enough, the idiom ‘you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone’ came into play," writes Gina.

Remember change is constant and you’ve been away for a whole; it’s not easy. "Despite looking forward to coming back to see my loved ones (and gorge on fish and chips), I felt what can only be described as a sense of mourning when I got back home. I cried everyday for about a week and a half and drew comparisons to how everything was crap in England compared to the States. It’s tough, and unless your friends or family have been abroad for an extended period of time, they just don’t ‘get’ it, especially if when you talked, you went about how you missed them/sarcasm/Dairy Milk," adds Tilly.

Both have returned from their year abroad and found the readjustment a little difficult, as they have had to readjust to being back home, without speaking the language, getting familiar with new places and people, and enjoying their time away. 

"What I found toughest was coming back and seeing my friends graduate. Without me. For a start, it installed a huge sense of dread that I was coming into my last year at university and I only have a few months left before I have to become a regular taxpaying citizen who can’t get away with eating tinned spaghetti Bolognese and watching re runs of Judge Judy. Also, I’d be going forth into this scary final year without most of my friends. It’s a pretty horrible feeling, and it makes watching your friends graduate very bittersweet," writes Tilly.

She suggests making friends with people who’ve come back from their year abroad, as you’ll have something to bond over. “Remember Michele from American Pie? Annoying redhead, this one time at bandcamp? You’re going to turn into Michele. While I’m very excited for you that you got to cuddle a koala or won at beer pong four times in a row, your joy might go unappreciated by your British friends”, notes Tilly.

There is a silver lining to the return back to the UK, however, as Gina suggests: “A home girl at heart, being back amongst good friends and family and finally out of a long distance relationship, is pretty amazing. I made a lot of friends during my year on the continent, some, admittedly, fair-weathered and others I will keep in touch with for years to come. I have to admit though, nothing beats coming back to the company of the people who have kept me going when I’ve been heavily homesick, looking after myself through Swine flu, failing exams and all the other negative parts that occasional cropped up during my year à l’étranger."

Getting back can be a real culture shock for many. Sadly, as much as you keep in touch with your friends and family (Skype is a lifesaver) brace yourself for not getting the in-jokes and there being a slight sense of distance when you first return. But it is fixable, with enough work, and remember how much you gained as a person by spending your time away. Besides, so and so puking on his shoes when he was in whatever bar probably isn’t as funny as your friends are making out.

Keeping abreast with news and popular culture through websites such as the BBC can really make a difference. Remember it’s not all sour grapes if you’re coming back, you have a degree to finish and friends back home to meet up with. If you fancy going back out to wherever you stayed, you can, once 4th year’s over, as you’ll have already made the contacts and most of the groundwork you’ll need. Beat reverse homesickness by making a list of things you loved about your home country and trying to bring them back. "I fell in love with Old Bay seasoning and ranch dressing when I studied in the States, so when I feel the blues they go straight on my plate and it helps. Try to see the positives in being home; you’re a more experienced person now and you get delightful British things like bangers and mash, British humour and chocolate that doesn’t taste of grit to be pleased about," says Tilly.

Finally, write and help whoever needs it for their time abroad. It does you the world of good to help out students who want to go abroad and it’s the best way to recall all your memories. If possible, get saving those pennies for your next way out - best way to beat the blues is to make sure you have something to look forward to. Plus, with all the friends you made during your time away, you know full well you won’t have to pay for a hotel room...

Fancy writing in and giving others some pointers? Get in touch here!

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