Studying abroad can be an amazing experience. Before you left, you felt nervous about acclimating to a new culture and excited about the new adventures and possibilities ahead. While you were studying, you met new friends, discovered a new culture, and traveled to interesting places. And now, as you’re getting ready for the coming home phase of your semester, you feel a bit sad about returning home.
When you’re not ready to leave your foreign home, you can start feeling the blues. You think about all the great memories and friends you’ve made as you pack your suitcase that’s full of new clothes, photos, and trinkets from your time abroad. The thought of leaving just makes you sad and you don’t want to go home! As someone who has felt the “coming home blues” before (and I hated it so much I ended up transferring to an American university in Madrid), I have some tips that will help you combat your blues while also appreciating them.
First and foremost, the blues are not something bad; the blues show that you have made connections with the culture and people of your foreign home that are worth missing.
Take time to be with those special friends before the end of the semester. Try planning a weekend trip or a party to celebrate the end of the semester. Get the contact information of your new friends so that you can keep up the communication even when you’re back home. Make sure to also visit those special places before leaving. Try taking pictures or journaling about your special places, like the park or museum or cafe, so you can remember how you felt when you were there.
Make a plan to return. A key way to combat the blues is to have something to look forward to. When you leave and don’t have a plan to return, you’ll start feeling hopeless. While it may not be totally feasible right away, make a rough sketch in your head about when you want to return to your foreign home and all the things you’ll do. Maybe you’ll even plan to take your family and friends with you to show them your old stomping ground.
Use the skills you learned abroad. Did you learn a new language when you were abroad? Did you learn a local recipe that you’re dying to share? Did you start a new hobby? Coming home from a study abroad experience doesn’t mean that you can’t take your newly developed skills with you. Keep up your skills, and maybe try to find ways to connect with people who are from or who also studied in your host country/city so you can utilize your new skills and chat about what you both like and dislike about the where you studied.
Keep your memories prominent. Hang up your pictures! Put your trinkets on your shelves! Make a scrapbook! Find ways that you can immortalize your memories and keep them visible in your daily life. While the nostalgia stung the first few times I looked at the little Spanish fan I bought, seeing it on my shelf reminded me about the great memories I had while I was in Spain and helped me to start my day in a great mood.
For those of you ready to come home, because you’re homesick or you miss your home culture, you might not feel your blues until you get on the plane or even until you arrive back home. While delayed, the blues will eventually hit, and with these tips, you’ll be ready to combat them.