The Slowdown

Good tidings, chums.  I have come to report on the timeline of feelings you may have during a study abroad trip.  Things change much more quickly when everybody knows they have only one semester to enjoy a new place!  Easily, what most people will tell you they first feel on a study abroad trip is…

Not too surprising, eh?  After a long flight, you arrive in a confusing airport, with your body fueled only by heavily salted airline food.  You somehow find your way to your destination, and everything is disorienting and different.  You long for the company of a familiar face, be it a friend or a family member.  “Why did I do this?”, “This was a stupid idea”, or “I don’t belong here” may be your go-to feelings.  Just don’t worry about them, because, as most people know, you’ll meet many people and soon feel…

Wow, look at this!  Look at that!  Try a little of this!  With a bit of optimism, objectivity, and the ability to laugh at yourself, you quickly recover.  You spend a month or two going crazy, doing as many things as possible very quickly.  Your activities are only limited by your budget, as you seem to get energy from nowhere.  You’ll quickly make many new friends and will be laughing at how you felt earlier.  From time to time, you’ll miss home, but for now, you’re having a blast.  Soon, you stop accelerating and rely on…

Okay, so after the dust settles, you’ve established a fairly steady, large group of people you try to see often.  Your weekends may still be busy, but during the week, you’re focused on school.  Sometimes, you may turn down activities from exhaustion or a busy schedule, or perhaps you’re trying to save money now!  For about a month or two, this will continue.  That is, of course, when things start…

Slowing Down
This is your new home, even if only temporarily.  You start to act more like the local population.  Your wide network of new friends gets cut down bit, as everyone realizes they can’t keep up with every new person they meet.  Perhaps you’re not frantically taking pictures of everything anymore?  Or maybe you stay in some weekends to catch up on schoolwork?  Either way, after a while, you start to act more like you did in your home country.  The novelty, while it isn’t gone, is no longer making you crazy.  Well, actually, you might go crazy again in…

The Squeeze
I’ll call it the Squeeze.  This is the period near the end of your excursion, when the looming deadline approaches.  This is it: you finally get to go home.  But it’s a bittersweet victory.  Now, part of you has been attached to this new place, and you may not be ready.  Sometimes, the reaction to this thought is to go crazy again, but with a little more of a stressful atmosphere.  Take pictures of everything!  Try every food!  Around this period, I’ve noticed people going travelling to other countries nearly every weekend.  Can’t say I’m not jealous of the size of their wallet.  Whatever it may be, most people will have some sort of coping mechanism to deal with the end of their stay.  Mine is to squeeze in as much food as possible.

As far as my thoughts go?  I think going home will be like visiting a new country.  While I have to learn many new things here, the atmosphere is, how should I say, more comfortable.  I will certainly be sad to part with all of the great people I’ve met here, but my family is also very important to me!  Either way, I still have 2-3 weeks left, so time to go CRAZY.  Of course, I mean crazy with exams and projects.  School continues, after all.  They don’t call UST the “University of Stress and Tears” for nothing.


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