Post-Study Abroad Survival Guide

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POST STUDY ABROAD SURVIVAL GUIDE PART 3 By: Gabby Bates


A NOTE FOR READERS This guide is something for you to read in order to try to prepare for or relate to when you return to the United States after your time abroad. The timeline is based off of my experiences after studying abroad through USAC in Bilbao, Spain during the spring semester of 2019. I have adjusted it to when I felt or did certain things. This can be different depending on your own personal experience, but it is more of a guide on how to get through it all. I hope you enjoy it! - Gabby Bates


- Part 1 - In this guide I discussed all things relating to the time leading up to going abroad. This went over things such as VISA

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF PARTS 1 & 2

information, travel tips, form information, and helpful tips and tricks. This guide would help a lot during the time leading up to leaving and to answer any questions that you might have.

- Part 2 - In this guide I went over what you do while you're abroad. I talked about things like classes, travel tips, meeting new people, etc. This would be a really beneficial guide to use while you are O M A Dtime! IC | 24 abroad to make the best of Nyour


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Emotions Immediately After Returning to the United States

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Handling Those Emotions

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Emotions 1-2 Weeks After Being Back

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Ways to Cope with Those Emotions

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Emotions 1-2 Months After Being Back

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Navigating Those Emotions

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Emotions Immediately After Returning to the United States

- Reverse culture shock - The little things are what I think make reverse culture shock more prevalent than ever. Hearing English be the primary language again, getting used to the social cues, remembering certain mannerisms, etc. were all things that took a little bit of time to get used to. I never thought hearing English as the primary language would be anything but normal to me, but when I first landed back in the US after my semester abroad I was fairly overwhelmed.

- Sadness - I felt really sad when first coming back. A little unsure of where my place was now that I was back in the United States. When I first left I was so beyond excited, but I figured a semester would be long enough and come the end of it I would be ready to go home. For me, this was not the case. However, I know that a lot of people get this feeling. I think it just varies by person! PAGE

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E M O T I O N S I M M E D I A T E L Y A F T E R R E T U R N I N G T O T H E U N I T E D S T A T E S - Denial - I did not want to accept the fact that I was home and no longer experiencing the life I had while abroad. It took me a decent amount of time to adjust to my life while abroad, so I was not looking forward to having to change that up again. I wanted nothing more than to stay abroad for as long as possible. The emotion of denial was probably the most prevalent for me.

- Loneliness - I knew that all of my family and friends were there for me to help and support me, but I still felt a little lonely. I missed my friends that I grew to love and care about so deeply while I was abroad, and felt lonely in the fact that not everyone could totally relate to how and what I was feeling. It was a strange emotion to try to maneuver, but it eventually gets better!

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EMOTIONS IMMEDIATELY AFTER RETURNING TO THE UNITED STATES

- Lost - My time spent abroad was the absolute best time of my life. When I got back, I didn’t think that my life would ever be that fun and exciting again. I felt lost in trying to feel as joyous and happy again like I did while I was abroad. It was hard to try to re-enter into my life in the states that I had left six months ago, but also to try not to forget the life I had just lived while abroad.

- Excitement - Some people feel excited when coming home! Especially if you were gone for a year or a semester, it can be an exciting time to get to go home and see all of the people you have been away from for so long. I was definitely excited to get to reunite with my family and friends, but the emotions of sadness and denial were more present when I first came home.

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Handling Those Emotions

- Reverse Culture Shock - This feeling is one of the trickier ones to try to deal with. The best advice that I can give for this is to just simply give it time. Just as when you first went abroad it took time to get used to the culture shock you experienced then. It is essentially the same thing, but reversed since you are experiencing this culture shock in your own country. Things will get back to normal, it just takes a little bit of getting used to. I really enjoyed talking to my friends I was abroad with about this. It was nice to know that some of the things that were overwhelming for me were also overwhelming for other people.

- Sadness - I cannot stress enough keeping in touch with the people that you studied abroad with. There is no one else out there who knows and understands more of what you are going through than they do. It was nice to share my feelings of sadness with others who were also feeling that way. It made it easier to get through knowing that I wasn't alone. I would also say to rely in your support system at home. They may not know exactly how you are feeling, but talking about it helps to start to feel better. PAGE

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HANDLING THOSE EMOTIONS - Denial - This emotion was one of the stronger ones that I felt when I initially got home. Once again, time is really what helps with this. It is okay to be in denial about being home and not being abroad anymore. However, try not to let it consume you. There are so many ways to get back abroad, so it is not goodbye forever. After readjusting to normal life again I started to feel like the denial was slowly fading away.

- Loneliness - My friends that I studied abroad with are really who got me through this. My friends and family at home were more than happy to talk with me about how I was feeling, but they weren't able to completely understand what exactly I was going through. The others who studied abroad with me were able to totally understand. This really helped me with the loneliness that I was feeling. It was a little difficult to reintegrate into the social life I had left 6 months prior, but again with time everything worked itself out. I do not know what I would have done without the support of my friends that were abroad with me.

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Handling Those Emotions

- Lost - Time and hope were what really helped me get through feeling lost when I got back. As I had more time to readjust and re-enter into all the things I had left, I didn't feel as lost anymore. I also latched on pretty strongly to hope. Hope that I would be able to get back to Spain and potentially work there one day. The opportunities are endless to get back, and knowing that really helped me.

- Excitement - I feel as if leaning on your support system at home is what helps to kind of calm down the excitement to come home. Some of you could be antsy and really excited to get back almost in a home sick way, but communicating with your friends and family back at home will help to reassure you that you will reconnect with them very soon. Take the time to enjoy your last few weeks, but definitely sharing your excitement with others will help! PAGE

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Emotions 1-2 Weeks After Being Back

- Post Study Abroad Slump - Missing all of the amazing things about your host country. For example the people, language, food, drinks, culture, public transportation, etc. - Missing your friends you met and shared amazing experiences with. The little things such as not seeing them everyday like you did for the past however long you were abroad. - Missing your everyday life you had while abroad. Such as always having something new to explore, going to classes, going out at night, spending time with friends, etc. - Missing the ability to travel and plan and go on weekend trips. Having so many new and fun places right at your finger tips. PAGE

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Emotions 1-2 Weeks After Being Back - Reintegrating into All Things Normal Life Again - Family - Not having to wait until specific hours to talk anymore - Catching up on all things family related - Seeing what you missed and what's new - Driving everywhere again - Not walking almost everywhere everyday or not taking public transportation anymore - Paying the expenses that come with this again - Friendships - Getting back into the friendships you were a little distant from while abroad - Classes - Readjusting to the level of difficulty of classes or even simply the workload or credit hours that you usually have - Everyday life - Daily schedule - Weekend events - Etc.

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WAYS

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THOSE

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- Post Study Abroad Slump - You might be able to take a guess for this one, TIME! For a while after getting back from being abroad I was in kind of a slump. I was so happy to be back with my friends and family, but at the same time I couldn't shake the sadness I was feeling about not being abroad anymore. Time will help with this slump. Also, keeping in touch with the people you met abroad. I got a lot of happiness from FaceTime calls with my friends I was abroad with talking about all of our fun memories. It makes thinking of your time abroad as more of a fun and happy time rather than a sad one.

- Reintegrating into All Things Normal Life Again - This was probably one of the harder things for me to adjust to. I got really used to my life that I had while I was abroad in Spain, so reintegrating into my life before being abroad took some time. Having the summer time with my friends before starting classes again really helped me with this. I think being able to have a break and enjoy all of the fun that comes with summer helped the transition into normal life be smoother. Starting classes again was difficult, but once I was able to get into a routine everything worked itself out! Once again, talking with your friends from your time abroad helps so much. More likely than not they are feeling the same way, have felt the same way, or even will feel that way at some point. Use each other to get through this transition time! PAGE

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EMOTIONS 1-2 MONTHS AFTER BEING BACK - Acceptance - Finally accepting that you are home and not going to be back in your host city with the same people with the same day-to-day life. Realizing that your life is back to being similar to what it was before you left for your time abroad.

- Mixed emotions - Feeling happy and sad that you have accepted the fact that you are home. - Happy that you are not as sad or lonely about not being abroad as you might have been right when you got home. - Sad that you now know it is really over.

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- Desire to Get Back to Being Abroad - Whether it’s studying, working, traveling, etc. It is totally normal to feel this desire! The great news is that there are endless

EMOTIONS 1-2 MONTHS AFTER BEING BACK

opportunities to do this! - How to stay connected with your host city, culture, language, etc. - Try to join study abroad groups possibly on campus or in the local community. - Try to join language groups possibly on campus or in the local community. - Staying in contact with the people you were abroad with is super important to stay connected! - Via social media - Via text - Via phone calls - Etc.

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NAVIGATING THOSE EMOTIONS - Acceptance - This is a really great spot to get to after returning from your time abroad. You have made it through the ups and downs, and have accepted that you are home and your time abroad is over. I thought this was a really cool feeling because I felt fully reintegrated into my life in America, and had such a great appreciation for my time in Spain. It wasn't thoughts of denial or sadness anymore, but thoughts of happiness and gratefulness that I had that amazing opportunity.

- Mixed emotions - With acceptance comes the mixed emotions. More often than not, when I think of my time abroad they are really happy and joyful thoughts. However, sometimes I do still get a little sad about it. When I start to feel a little down about it I reach out to my friends that I studied abroad with. They always help to bring me out of that rut.

- Desire to Get Back to Being Abroad - From the second I got back from Spain to even now I have been consistently thinking of ways that I can get myself back to Spain for either secondary education, for work, or even just for travel. There are so many ways that you can get back to where you studied. Taking the time to research these potential opportunities is key. They may vary by location, but I can almost guarantee you will find something! Stay hopeful and create some travel goals and dreams. I think having the excitement for these potential opportunities is an amazing driver to keep you motivated with what you're doing!

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