Study abroad is the time of your life, right? The adventure of a lifetime, right??
It’s always going to be rainbows and butterflies, right!? Wrong. So, so wrong.
Just as in life, studying abroad has its ups and downs, although when you’re in a foreign country, the variations tend to appear more intensely. After the initial shock of arriving and the euphoria that comes with exploring an unknown place, you begin to feel the banalities of life creep back into your daily life. You go back to classes. You start a routine. Things become somewhat familiar. Then all of a sudden, you realize, things are different here. And maybe not in a way you had expected. “Normal” life abroad is not like normal life at home. And this is when the true period of adjustment begins.
No matter how you look at it, this adjustment period is hard. You might be realizing that you can’t really communicate with your host family. Or you might be realizing that there are aspects of this new culture that you don’t agree with, or that offend you. Even though I’ve studied abroad before, the adjustment period has been just as real and just as difficult this second time. It’s scary, to be entirely honest. Moving to a new place, leaving your friends and family behind, to start this new life that is “supposed” to be a life-changing experience… But what if it’s not? We all have these fears, every single person that studies abroad. We all get anxious, overwhelmed, and, at some point or another, homesick. We get lonely.
BUT precisely because every other person studying abroad goes through this gamut of emotions, it’s important to remember that you are not alone! That the other people in your program are struggling with the SAME issues. They’re just as scared and confused as you are. So, don’t be afraid to reach out! Allow yourself to be vulnerable. Express your fears to your peers, and I guarantee you they will be heard at the very least, if not entirely reciprocated.
Studying abroad is hard. The real adjustment period is hard. But you are not alone.
Also- if you have an animal living with your host family, they usually are pretty good at perking up your spirits!