One trip is never enough

Originally, I wholeheartedly believed that studying abroad was a ploy. I assumed it was something that universities pushed on you, claiming it would make you well-rounded, but would instead just make them money.

I rarely admit that I am wrong, but this is a case in which I will, gladly, time and time again.

Studying abroad was the best thing I have done in my almost 22 years on this earth.

I went to London for a month this past summer, took two literature classes, and realized that wanderlust, no matter how silly and Lewis-Carroll-esque that word sounds, is real.

And if wanderlust is real, so is what I have decided to call study-abroad-withdrawal (SAW).

Technically, it is the various moments after a time abroad that make the sufferer weary of being home, desperate to be back in the far off land he or she studied in and reminiscent of the amazing time that was had during that time away.

In less clinical terms, it’s when you realize that traveling rocks and coming home sucks.

The study abroad program does a fabulous job acclimating students to the new place they are going to spend the foreseeable future, but nothing is done to get them prepared for coming back.

This is where I should confess that my “newly coined” SAW has an official name: reverse culture shock.

Google it. Go ahead. Because what comes up is actually a bit jolting.

There are articles all over the Internet to help travelers, specifically returning study abroad students, deal with the concept of coming home and reacclimating. The articles discuss steps to be taken to lessen the potential confusion, apprehension and even depression coming from a long trip ending.

As silly as this may sound to those who haven’t participated in these kinds of travels, it is real.

Even after being home for more than five months, I have had countless moments in the past two weeks alone that make me suddenly sad for not being able to close my eyes, reopen them and see England around me.

Last week, my boss requested to see a few pictures of the house where “Downton Abbey” was filmed. I had been lucky enough to visit the home while abroad. I just stared at the photos blankly for several moments before remembering I was supposed to be narrating.

While this may not sound like a ringing endorsement for traveling, it is quite the opposite.

This is what a lack of travel can cause, not an excess. Seeing a small portion of the world has only whetted my appetite to visit even more places. My bucket list has grown quite long.

While a little warning of this reverse culture shock would have helped,  I probably should have known how much an English major could miss the land of Jane Austen and Harry Potter after coming home.

So go ahead. Travel. See the world. Just make sure you realize, “just one more trip” will never actually be enough.

#HeatherThompsoncolumn #reversecultureshock #studyabroad #studyabroadwithdrawal

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