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The Ups and Downs of Study Abroad Limbo

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at C of C chapter.

One thing that most people leave out when they describe their study abroad experience is the long gap of time between when their friends, at home and at college, go back to school and when they begin school at their host university. While most other people have been in school for a month, as I write this, I have yet to even go to Nottingham, UK, where I will be studying this semester.  

Though I worked at a summer camp for two months, I’ve been home since mid-August. While a month is a substantial amount of time, it’s also not enough time to get another job to fill my time. This may sound like Christmas break, but all the friends I usually hang out with when I am home are all off at their own colleges having their own experiences, and I am sitting here, rotting away and watching Netflix all day. So, here it is– the part of study abroad that nobody mentions: study abroad limbo.


1. You still feel like it’s summer, but it’s not. 

It stays warm for a little while in September in other areas, but not as long as it does in South Carolina. Plus, without school to alert you that, “Hey, it’s fall,” it still feels as if you’re on summer break.  So, I was caught off-guard by a cold front when I walked out of the house in shorts and flip-flops. 

2. When you run into people you know, who don’t know you’re studying abroad, they wonder what you’re doing with your life.

No, I’m not at school yet. Yes, I know that it’s the middle of September. No, I didn’t graduate. No, I didn’t transfer somewhere closer to home. No, I didn’t drop out. It’s hard to explain. This is weird. Stop staring at me. 

3. This whole “I’m going out of the country to study for a semester” thing doesn’t seem quite real to you yet.

4. You get to visit your college friends on the weekends!

This is one good thing. I get to visit people I wouldn’t normally get to visit because I live so far away from my home state. I also even took a trip to Charleston to see all of my college friends I missed.

5. But when you get on Facebook, and you see all your college friends, you feel like you’re missing out.

But hey, the roles will be reversed soon enough. 

6. And even if you visit the college you normally attend, it’s kinda weird.

It’s like I go here, but not really? You feel like an outsider even though it’s usually your home. When my friend’s roommate asked me where I went and I replied, “I go here,” she was very confused. Study abroad limbo involves more explaining than I’m used to.

7. You have a lot of free time!


This goes without saying, but study abroad limbo is the perfect time to catch up on all of your favorite TV shows, or pick up that book you’ve always been wanting to read. 

8. Bored.  Bored. Bored.


I’m a lot like a bicycle.  Too much standing still makes me fall down. 

9. And then there’s that final week when you start to realize that this whole abroad thing is for real.

I’m going abroad!  I’m going to London, and Paris, and all these other places!

10. And you realize how much this is feels like a repeat of your freshman year.

What will the people be like? Will they like me? Will my roommate be a nightmare? 

11. And then you start panicking about what to bring/pack.

12. And then you get all these emails from your host university about forms you didn’t even know about.

And you’re telling me about this… now?

13. Then you lay out a million different outfits only to realize that you have to leave the majority of them behind.

Choices are hard.

14. And every little thing you pack feels like it will be too much.

Well, I might need that tenth pair of pants.  But 0.5 pounds is so heavy!

15. And then you slowly realize that you’re ready to study abroad, and that all the pain and suffering was more than worth it!




Image sources:

world-walk-about.com, Tumblr.com, Theprospect.net, Fuckyeahgifs.soup.io, Pandawhale.com, Bustle.com, Mrwgifs.com, giphy.com, Drodd.com, Stupidcupidblog.com, Survivingcollege.com, Imgur.com, Wifflegif.com, Gifsec.com 

Alex is a sophomore in the Honors College at the College of Charleston.  She majors in English with a concentration in creative writing.  In her spare time, she enjoys writing poetry, fiction, and songs, reading, drinking her own body weight in coffee and tea, playing guitar, singing, and enjoying the great outdoors!