You just spent the most amazing time of your life in abroad, and it could've been on a tropical beach in Brazil, a romantic semester spent in Venice, or an intense language course in Beijing, But now, you're BACK, and you're a cultured, sexy, study abroad beast.
The only thing keeping you from hopping on a plane back to wherever it was you were is the reminiscing with never-ending stories you tell your friends, which are helping you re-live your experience abroad.
Unfortunately, these stories, no matter how amazing that last day and night in Bangkok was, aren’t all that interesting to your American friends. So this begs the ultimate question: how do I deal with my friends' disinterest in my study abroad life, yet still keep enough of my foreign-self intact so that my study abroad experience doesn't become a distant memory?
Only Tell Stories to Your Family or Best Friend
I know it sucks, but honestly, no one besides those who love you care that you miss getting fresh croissants from the supermarket every morning and the fact that that makes you sadder than it should. The sooner you realize this hard truth, the sooner you'll be able to fall back into your group of friends without any awkward moments. And when you do tell those special stories to your best friend or family member who actually cares, it'll make that story telling that more special.
Blog or Share Your Travel Stories Online
Your friends may be sick of hearing your stories, but you know who will never tire of your stories? THE INTERNET. With free Wordpress blog creation, your own personal travel blog is only a few clicks and minutes away.
Another great way to get your stories out there is to share them with travel sites. Two resources that are just waiting to get your writing published are GoAbroad.com (the resource for meaningful travel) and Life After Study Abroad Magazine (You've Studied Abroad Now What?). If you want to write for GoAbroad, fill out their writing form here.
And if you want to get your story published in Life After Study Abroad, just email them at firstname.lastname@example.org with a topic idea and a short bio.
Instead of Stories, Show Off Your New Skills
Ok, so your friends don't want to hear your stories. But we would all go crazy if we couldn't show off just a little bit. So did you learn something awesome whilst abroad? Did you just come back from a summer in Spain? Make sure your jerk friends know that that summer wasn't for want by fearlessly speaking Spanish with whoever will let you! How about a new way to pour your drink? Or just a new way to drink? Show off your cultured side, my friend.
Connect Frequently with Your Friends from Abroad
While you may not be able to share your stories with your friends back home, you still have all those amazing friends you made while you were abroad! And not only is it important to keep in touch with them, but they'll also be able to recount all your stories with you! This will not only fulfill your need to talk about your other life that existed abroad, but it will also make recounting those experiences that much better since you'll be talking about it with those who experienced it with you.
Drop that Foreign Accent You Picked Up
I know that probably your new foreign accent is the coolest thing to you since sliced bread, but your friends back home probably won't see it that way. My suggestion would be to show off your new accent and vocabulary the first couple of days you are back, and then tone it down a bit afterwards. No one will take you seriously if, after a year of being back, you're still saying ‘rubbish’ instead of ‘trash.’ It may be hard to let go of that new way of speaking, but in the end, it's worth it to keep your sanity and dignity.
Become a Campus Ambassador for the Company You Went Abroad With
This way, you get PAID and reap awesome rewards (think free trips abroad) to talk to interested students, who not only want to hear your stories, but also will hang on every word. Students considering studying abroad will be itching to hear more, reveling in how cool you are that you went on a three-day trek with llamas to Machu Picchu. On the same note, incorporate your experiences into a classroom presentation.
Your classmates are stuck in class and they HAVE to listen to you. Make them enjoy your presentation so much that you suddenly become the coolest kid in class, and they all want to hold your books for you as you walk down the halls, telling them how they can sign up for their own study abroad experience....
Realize You Have Two Personalities Now
The key to solving reverse culture shock is realizing that you now have two different personalities: one from abroad and your old American self. Now that you know this, you can start working towards putting them together and building a new, wonderful personality that you never thought was possible. This is ultimately the answer to being home, besides, of course, traveling again.
Finally, Go Abroad Again
You know one place where you can re-live your stories, but more importantly, experience new ones? Abroad. You know where you won't find friends sick of hearing about your travels? Abroad. Ultimately, the percentage of study abroad students who live overseas again is very high, and you should have no shame in joining that crowd. Living abroad again includes so many pros that it's hard to turn it down.
Graduate school abroad is cheaper and quicker, internships abroad are cheap and offer invaluable international experience in the workplace, you can officially become bilingual for real, and you can live out your dream of having a life abroad. So, besides coming to terms with being home, traveling abroad again is a best answer to staying sane after studying abroad.
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