So You Just Returned from an Amazing Experience Abroad… Now What?
It's a love-hate relationship with IP. You love that you got to go abroad but you hate that you had to return. While being abroad you learned so much about other cultures, your faith, who you are, and who you want to be. You had a life-changing experience to say the least. You matured in so many ways. After having an EXTRAORDINARY life how do you go on with a "normal" life?
If you were like me, you might not be having the easiest time adjusting back to campus life. Life back at campus might seem...mediocre. Ya, you're back in the 'bu but things don't fit right. You might be missing overseas real bad and maybe don't want to face the facts that you're back in the US. You might have been so excited to get back to your friendly campus and now you realize you don't know anyone here. You might be feeling that this is your school but these aren't your people. You also might feel like you've changed in several ways but it doesn't seem like your friends back at Pepp have been acknowledging it.
Well, sorry to say it but it's time to drop the fake accent, stop making reservations on easyJet, and realize that you're back at Pepperdine. It is important to understand though that it is completely normal for it not to be easy to adjust back to the "normal" Pepperdine life. It is okay to miss the experiences overseas; it is totally okay to look back at the memories you made while abroad. And as weird as it sounds, give yourself permission to see no longer living abroad as a loss in your life. And along with that, give yourself closure; set time aside to grieve over your loss. DO NOT, however, grieve forever; you are in an awesome place! There are new experiences to be had, new friends to be made- it can be extraordinary here too. Of course the time you had abroad will not be forgotten, just realize that it is now a time to make new experiences- it is a new season that is worth being present in. Get involved on campus to help you reconnect and definitely make time to see friends. As you make friends and/or reconnect with old friends- be sure you have friendships that are healthy. Be around friends that support you and encourage you to progress. Be around people who are healthy for you. For example, you might have partied your freshman year and maybe ever since coming back from abroad you've decided not to do that anymore - hang out with friends who will be supportive of your decision and not ones who will hassle you for it.
Have friends who stayed while you went abroad? Make sure you are sensitive of their feelings and don't leave them out. You probably came back to the States with tons of inside jokes that you share with the rest of the people you studied abroad with; don't make your friends feel left out when you're telling stories or jokes. Definitely be interested in how your friend's year went as they stayed here, they had great experiences too.
Have friends who studied abroad while you stayed? Listen and show interest in what they want to share about their time abroad- it's still fresh and important in their mind. Be sensitive that they might be feeling left out and feeling like they don't belong back on campus.
Being abroad was amazing, no doubt. But you're back at Pepperdine. It's amazing, no doubt. Welcome home.
-From your friends here at rIQ
Written by: Shaina Kohli, rIQ Intern 2012, Pepperdine University class of 2013