Though I am still in Europe, my time in France has come to an end. The semester ended two weeks ago, and I am finishing up my last bit of travels as I write this. It is now time to start thinking about transitioning back home after a full year abroad. Home feels so foreign now, and I have very mixed feelings about returning. I am almost more scared to return than I was to go abroad in the first place.
While abroad, you create a new life for yourself. You get used to going on your morning run to the Opera House, ordering your meals in French or being able to pick up and go to Amsterdam for the weekend. Though San Diego has a lot to offer, it does not have the things that I have become so used to. I have become accustomed to my new life, and now it is San Diego that sounds like the foreign land that I will be traveling to in a few weeks. I believe that the hardest part of studying abroad will be this transition back home and the “real world.”
Before heading home, you must say goodbye to the life that you built for yourself. You have to say goodbye to the new friends that you have made memories with, and you realize the possibility that you may never see some of these people ever again. They will always be in your heart, but you know that it will be hard to meet up with your friends from faraway lands. Even if you do manage to see them again, it will never be the same as when you spent every day with them. It will never be the same as when you could plan trips to wonderful places for the weekend. It will never be the same as having them in your day-to-day life. It is weird losing your friends, and I have had to do it twice already in Australia and France.
Not only do you leave the people, but you leave your lifestyle. I have been traveling so much this last year, but I just cannot afford to keep traveling like this when I get home. So, I must suppress my travel desires while I save up my money again. I also cannot get the same food, experiences or culture. Everything that I find comfort in now has to be given up again. In a way, your study abroad city becomes your home, and just like it was hard to leave for study abroad, it is hard to leave your new home after studying abroad.
I am constantly feeling homesick for Sydney even while I am here in Europe. I know that I will feel the same way about Nantes, as well. I can barely remember what life was like before this all began, and that scares me.
Another reason that I am scared to go back home is because I feel like things have changed so much. When you go away, everyone back home keeps on living out their lives. This means that things back home will change. I know that I have changed like I said in my previous post. So, I am afraid that I will try to return to my old life, but it will not be what I want it to be. Maybe I will come back and my friends have moved on to a new group. Maybe I will not like the hobbies I once loved. Maybe my love for Mexican food has dwindled (OK, maybe not that drastic, but you get my point).
I am just afraid that everything has changed, and I will be an outsider trying to fit into a life that I once had. I have been gone a year, and I have grown accustomed to different things and I do not know what to expect when I get home. Returning home is supposed to feel safe and familiar, but I feel like Sydney or Nantes is that for me because when I get home, it will have been 346 days since I left my old life.
My year abroad has been the best thing to ever happen to me. Though it hurts to say goodbye, I do not regret anything. I would not change anything, and I am so happy to have experienced all that I have. I can now say that I have lived in both hemispheres, three different continents and three different countries while visiting places like the Great Barrier Reef, the Sydney Opera House, the Eiffel Tower, Big Ben and countless others. I also know that I now have friends around the world, and it does not have to be a goodbye. I am a traveler, and I will make it my mission to see more of the world, see the people that matter most to me, and return to the places that I have called home.
My life has changed, and although that is scary, I will embrace it. I will let it better me.
Daniel Haberman is a marketing major. He is studying in Nantes, France during Spring semester.