Jackie in Switzerland: Coming Home

Hi there, remember me? I have officially been home for about three weeks, and it is weird! I have waited to write this post because it took me a little while to figure out what it’s really like to come back after 6 months abroad.  I still feel the same, but the biggest struggle has been the little things that I now notice in the U.S. after seeing completely different things abroad. For example, I find that after being in Switzerland, I take a more liberal view point on a lot of social issues in the U.S. Coming from a generally conservative town, it’s sometimes difficult to find a balance between what I thought was ‘normal’ before and how I fit into that normal with all of my new opinions. And by this I mean that I’m finding it harder to bite my tongue, which has led to more than a few political arguments with my father (sorry, dad).

In truth, it surprised me how little my life had an effect on those back home when it seemed like I was having the eye-opening experience of a lifetime. I expected my friends and family to have been following my travels, anxiously awaiting my return so that they could hear all about it. What actually happened was that I returned to find that people had been doing other things while I was gone (how dare they have lives without me?) and that my returning home was more of a return for me than for anyone else.

I have some awesome pictures from all across Europe, and I can still remember the taste of my Swiss chocolate, Italian coffee, and Greek souvlaki. Oh my, the separation anxiety is real. But while all of that stuff really matters to me, for everyone else in my life, these things are remotely cool and interesting, but nothing life changing. I don’t know if I was expecting people to absolutely freak out and bombard me with questions, but I have spoken surprisingly little about my experiences since coming home.

What I’m basically trying to say is this; never, ever, EVER live your life for someone else’s interest. In the end, they’re probably not going to care nearly as much as you do, and in the process, you’re going to miss out on what you love trying to be the cool, interesting traveler that you think everyone wants.

The person you should be trying to impress is yourself. Studying abroad gives you the best experiences ever, but those experiences are YOURS and no one else’s, so you need to spend your time/money/energy figuring out what you want to do, even if it may be boring to someone else.

This blog has given me the chance to be honest about what it’s really like to study abroad and I hope that you all enjoyed reading about it as much as I enjoyed writing about it! Good luck to all of the students studying abroad this fall; you’re in for a great time. 🙂

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