Finding your land legs
On Semester at Sea (SAS), there is an ongoing joke that it takes some time to get your land legs after the adventure has come to an end. As much as it is an adjustment to leave for a semester abroad, it is also a huge adjustment coming back after spending six months out of the U.S. Although initially you may just be excited to have a Sarah’s burrito and cell phone service, one of the most important parts of going abroad is not forgetting the lessons and experiences you had while you were gone. It is sometimes easy to fall back into the comfortable life you lived before spending a significant amount of time away. Maybe you realized that you wanted to learn a second language after going abroad, or maybe you decided you wanted to do more community service work; do not forget about the promises you made to yourself about how you would spend your time when you returned home.
Junior Brooke Metzler recently returned from her fall Semester at Sea and shares how she is struggling to adjust back to reality.
“The post SAS depression is real,” Brooke said. “It’s hard to go from spending your days traveling the world to spending them studying in Copley.”
In addition to making sure that you remember the importance and significance of how you may have changed, or wanted to change when you returned to the U.S., there are also tough realities to come to terms with now that your “semester of a lifetime” has come to an end. There are obvious hardships: not being 21, adjusting back to the University of San Diego workload, missing friends that you met during your time abroad. Basically, a lot of students go through a period of feeling upset when they return home. I think this largely stems from the comfortable nature of living in the U.S.A. While abroad, you are constantly challenging yourself to try new things, adapt to new surroundings, and figure out the complicated or frustrating situations – whether it’s train schedules, cranky friends, or communicating with people via Google Translate, if you are blessed enough to have Wi-Fi. Time spent traveling outside of the U.S. can be challenging, but more importantly, rewarding. After figuring something out, or finally arriving in a new destination you feel accomplished and inspired. I think a hard part of adjusting back to life at home is that you have to go out of your way to challenge yourself and grow, while time abroad forces you challenge yourself and grow.
Lastly, as cheesy as it may sound to those who haven’t yet had an abroad experience, you, as a person, will definitely change in some way. Time abroad shows you what and who are important to you. Coming back, many of your friends may not understand the new you, making it difficult to find your place again at USD.
Junior Kierstyn Suda comments on some of the struggles of coming back to USD from her time in Vienna.
“One of my biggest challenges after coming back from abroad was finding my place at USD,” Suda said. “My time in Vienna definitely changed me, and I am still trying to figure out how to balance who I was before abroad with who I am now.”
Maybe you are now interested in being a part of a different social circle, changing your major, or have decided to prioritize your time differently. Overall, the most important thing to remember while experiencing these growing pains is that change is good it’s healthy and the pull you feel to try something new could very well be leading you to your next great adventure.