How to Move on After Your Semester Abroad

So you're back in the real college world, where you're eating frozen pizza for every meal, succumbing to the time warp that is the library on a Thursday night at 2am, and definitely no longer traveling from one country to the next on the weekends. Your wallet is empty, your newfound pretentious love of Spanish wine ("this one is light-bodied, I'd say, with a grassy aroma and an oaky finish") is now irrelevant, and you're left with philosophical, borderline-existential questions about the life you're living. More importantly, your friends who haven't gone abroad are sick of your relentless, obsessive need to tell that one story about how you got lost on a train in Italy over and over again. Even your friends who went abroad with you might not want to talk about it anymore because it makes them start questioning their existence too. But you just can't help reminiscing on the incredible experience that changed your life. It's really not a bad problem to have, but it's a problem nonetheless, so how do you deal with it?

I have formulated a 3-Step Plan for Getting Over the Study Abroad Blues (patent pending) that has not been proven to work or even have any merit whatsoever. In fact, this could just make the situation worse, but here goes nothing. 

 

Step 1: Have an abroad memory bender

Everyone knows the best way to get over something is to spend three days doing absolutely nothing other than focusing all of your attention on that very something you're trying to forget...right? 

Gather a few of your friends from abroad, sit yourselves down on the couch (or, in my case, my nifty trundle bed), and don't move for the next 72 hours. Make sure to charge up your laptops, and then crack open a pint of ice cream and look through the thousands of pictures and videos you took during your abroad semester. Cry it all out! Who knows, maybe you'll be a changed person, ready to assimilate back into your at-home college routine after three days of non-stop reminiscence. 

 

Step 2: Fake it 'til you make it

Let's be real. After your three day fill of abroad memories, you probably still won't be sick of thinking and talking incessantly about them. Then, it'll be time for the tried-and-true practice of faking it until you make it. Simply plaster a smile on your face and talk about that one crazy professor you have or make a snide remark about the dining hall food. Eventually, if you fake it enough, this will feel like your reality again!

 

Step 3: Just give in already

Honestly, why try to forget about the four or five months you spent living and learning in a different country when it really did teach you so much? If it has left that much of an impression on you, it won't be worth your while to move on entirely. Be shamelessly, unapologetically, blissfully proud of the time you spent abroad, and don't worry so much about suppressing your need to feel that way. As long as you're being mindful of the people around you who haven't had the incredible opportunity and privilege to travel, there's nothing wrong with bringing up your memories every once in a while.

Ultimately, there's a reason you aren't ready to move on quite yet. Take everything you learned and make something out of it instead of throwing it away. Obviously, there is no value in living your life entirely in your memories; you still need to appreciate each day in the present, even if it doesn't initially feel as exciting as hopping on a plane to a different country on a whim. But what you gained from traveling abroad is not simply a passport filled with stamps. You likely learned a lot about who you are and what you want from your life, so embrace that.