It's been almost a full year since I first left America to study abroad in Aix-en-Provence, France for a semester, and I never could have imagined the roller coaster of feelings I'd experience once I returned to Marietta, OH for my senior year.
Thank goodness the Office of Education Abroad prepared me somewhat for Reverse Culture Shock. You see, I had no problems adjusting to life in France. We had a one day orientation program at my school and it was the perfect amount of information to help me adjust to the new culture. I quickly felt at home, and was able to connect both to the culture and to the amazing friends I met. The months flew by, and eventually it was time to say goodbye to my best friends, Alyssa, Taylor, and Greg, amongst other close friends.
I'm an emotional person, but the feelings of saying goodbye to these three, and to my home were unbearable. I avoided packing the entire last week simply because I did not want to leave. And the crazy thing was that I wasn't even leaving France- I had 3 more weeks of traveling with my family.
June 8, 2014 I arrived back in Baltimore, and quickly began readjusting to life, a relatively easy thing to do since it was summer and I could just chill out at home, avoiding actually adjusting to the new changes.
I guess my purpose in writing this so long after the fact is to help people understand that studying abroad isn't just fun and games- its a life-changing experience that transforms you at your core. And as amazing as it can be to see loved ones and friends that you've missed, it can make you realize how much you've changed, and how life has continued while you were off having your little adventure. It reminds you that you aren't the center of anything, but another little piece of the rest of the world. And that's a little shocking to your ego.