Summer still hangs full and heavy on the air, so it’s hard to believe that most university students are preparing for the start of yet another semester. While many of you are itching to get back to your friends and tiny but comfy dorm rooms, some of us (myself included) are bemoaning the end of our summer semesters abroad. Why on earth do we want to leave European streets, Asian villages, Mediterranean beaches, or South American jungles? To top it all off, our wanderlust only grows stronger when posts like “Preparing for a Fall Semester Abroad” and “Autumn in Paris: a Study Abroad Guide” are popping up all over our news feeds.
To remedy this, I’ve decided to offer some encouragement and share some tips on how to adjust to school after a semester abroad. So here we go….
Bring pieces of your adventure with you. If you’ve been studying in another country, you have likely collected a few trinkets along the way. Don’t leave them at home to collect dust on a shelf. Bring them with you, and use them to decorate your desk or a windowsill. Print out pictures of all your favorite, international hideaways to create an insta-collage or whimsical design on your wall. Keep a travel scrapbook within reach. Shop around for a classic globe to remind you of all the places you’ve been and all the places you are going. The possibilities are endless, and a bit of travel decor goes a long way in keeping wanderlust alive.
Share your stories and find fellow travelers. This is a great way to make new friends and encourage others to fulfill their dreams of world exploration. On a university campus, you’re bound to bump into someone else who is just as homesick for adventure as you. Don’t be afraid to share your travel stories, but also lend a listening ear. It’s easy to get caught up reliving your own fantastic memories, so remember that while you were somewhere on the other side of the world, someone else was elsewhere having equally exciting experiences.
Join extracurricular and local clubs. While traveling, the best way to learn about a culture is to make friends with the locals. The same applies to college life. Don’t spend all your time holed up in your room with yet another season of House Hunters International playing on Netflix. Though, I certainly recommend such activities on occasion. Head out into the great unknown (or known) of your campus, and find your own adventures. I for one am looking forward to serving as vice-president of my university’s chapter of Alpha Mu Gamma, a foreign language honor society. Seriously, get out there and find your niche! There’s something for everyone.
Realize that you have changed. You’re returning to school with a new perspective of the world around you. That is the simple truth, and it’s perfectly okay. After spending time as a solo traveler or exploring a new culture, it would be hard to deny that you haven’t changed. Don’t worry, everyone else has changed, too. Old friendships might seem awkward. Maybe you’ve even made new friends while traveling with your school. Take a deep breath and embrace the person you’ve become. Change can be frightening, but it can also be an adventure.
Keep an open mind. Sometimes this can be hard when you’re settling into a new place, especially when you’re longing for a culture or country that’s a world away. That is completely okay, but don’t allow that longing to negatively effect your attitude when you head to school. Stay focused on your new classes and campus job. Explore the new coffee shops and boutiques in town. Life is what you make it, and no matter where you are, there are adventures to be found. You just have to be willing to look for them.
How do you deal with saying goodbye to global exploration and settling down for a semester?
*All photography open domain from Pixabay