Everyone warns you about the culture shock you’re supposed to experience when you study abroad. You’re reminded that different countries have different cultures and customs, and that you won’t always understand them. You’re told that you’ll be pushed out of your comfort zone. That you’ll experience many strange and wonderful things. Mostly, you’re told it’ll be the experience of a lifetime. They’re completely right. Somehow though, everyone fails to talk about what it is like to come home afterwards. There is almost this sense of a reverse culture shock that occurs. After months of exploring another continent and redefining myself and how I see the world, it can bee extremely shocking to come home and have everything be the same as it was before.
I knew that I would miss Brussels about a week into my study abroad program. The people I met, the experiences I had, and the city itself are completely unforgettable. One of the best qualities about Brussels is that its not an overtly touristy city. I loved that I was able to wonder around and find these parks and plazas on my own. It was such an organic feeling. Before long, I had my favorite places and a happy routine. It’s pretty crazy how quickly I became comfortable there. I think that might be one of the main reasons why it was so hard for me to come back to Florida. Brussels quickly became my second home. Just as I had those moments of homesickness while abroad, I’ve also experienced them here. You have pictures, tokens, and memories to remind you that it happened. Yet sometimes it can feel like a dream.
Since I got home, I have started to look for graduate programs abroad. I accredit my study abroad experience for enlightening me on other possibilities I have for postgrad life. It can too be too easy to limit yourself and think that your scope is smaller than it actually is. Prior to this summer, I assumed I would go to graduate school somewhat nearby or get a job. I wasn’t too sure about my future. Now, I feel that I have better understanding of want I would like to do and where I would like to be. I am so immensely grateful for this opportunity for helping me expand my horizons.