The process of student exchange consists of great variety of different emotional roller coasters – not only fun and games. You might be mentally prepared for obstacles in the target country and studies, even some amount of homesickness and a culture shock. Nevertheless, you might not be expecting a situation where coming back home appears to be the hardest part of your exchange experience. Here are listed some feelings that might fill your head when coming back, and also some ideas how to soften the blow:
1. “I have changed so much but back home everything´s the same.”
You have had an amazing eye-opening phase of your life but it might feel like nothing has changed back home. Your friends and family members talk about the same things as they did a year back, and their stories and worries seem so small and boring. Maybe you don´t even remember where the home is if your life has been a bit messy and hectic also in your home country. Try to keep an open mind for the people back home, some of them might have had same experiences as you in the past. You might also find new friends who share your passion for travelling.
2. “I don´t know how to embrace my new lifestyle back home.”
Perhaps while abroad, you started to know who you are a bit more and picked up refreshing new manners and habits? Still, they don´t quite adapt to the life you are leading back home. Your biggest fear might be the fact that in the end, you will not change at all, and you´ll revert back to the same old you once again. However, you should not worry too much. Many of the things you learn while abroad are so abstract, that you do not necessarily became aware of the change yourself. Once you have opened your eyes to new things, they won´t easily be shut again.
3. “Nobody gets me.”
You begin to sound like a broken record when you constantly bring up the memories from your time abroad and compare the two countries. After a while nobody cares anymore and you begin to bore even yourself. You start to lose contact with your exchange friends and they gradually get lost in the sea of social media. A good way to embrace the new you and revisit the exchange atmosphere is to join your home university´s international circles. Tutoring the newly arrived exchange students should come naturally now that you understand what they are experiencing.
4. “I am thirsty for more.”
Usually life will go on back home: You´ll find yourself again and mix a great cocktail out of the best parts of the two different worlds. Still, if this feels totally impossible, the only medicine to heal you might be planning another adventure. And what´s the harm in that?
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