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The Beginning of the End

June 7, 2016

ISEP student Morgan L. is a part of ISEP Voices Spring 2016. She is a biology major from University of North Georgia, and is currently studying abroad at La Trobe University in Australia.

At first, you might not even realize it’s coming. You’ve always known the date you’re set to return home from abroad, but it sneaks up on you. You just got used your new place. You made friends; some distant, some seemingly lifelong. You’ve been having fun, experiencing so many new things and meeting new types of people, both good and bad. You were so used to thinking you had more time to do everything on your list. But then it hits you: the beginning of the end.

Almost like being taken out by a train, you are blindsided by how little time you have left. A few things follow this.

Panic

You begin to count the infinite amount of things you haven’t done. You communicate with friends frantically and begin to calculate the time left with math skills you never thought you had. You make lists and go out to adventure with a fierce determination to have fun, but become terrified you won’t be able to make this trip worth it.

Photo by ISEP student Rachel C., who studied abroad in Australia.
Photo by ISEP student Rachel C., who studied abroad in Australia.

Fear

You become scared of your future returning home. Will I be just as happy? How much has changed? How much will I miss studying abroad? Will I see my new friends again? Is reverse culture shock real? You begin to worry the home you left might be less of a home because of the new life you’ve started here. You try to imagine what you can look forward to. You desperately come up with reasons why home is where you want to be so it won’t hurt so badly.

Nostalgia

You walk through your routine and begin to see memories of times much earlier on, when you did not have to think about the end. You see where you made the friends you have now and remember the feelings you had then. You envy yourself, and wish you could turn back time to do it all over to appreciate what you have. You ache as you realize you will never be in that spot with those people ever again.

Sadness

You are sad for a bit. Maybe you go off on your own so your friends can’t see. You recede into a bubble and mourn what is to come. The pain is so great, you sit there emotionally paralyzed.

We rarely think about what we have now. We rarely see that it isn’t actually over, and we don’t actually ever lose this.

The stories

We have new experiences and memories, and those back at home will not know unless we share them. By sharing these stories, we can continue to experience the memories that we’ve created. The stories we tell will give us joy we never thought we could have again.

Photo by ISEP student Rachel C., who studied abroad in Australia.
Photo by ISEP student Rachel C., who studied abroad in Australia.

A new home

We now have another place in the world where we feel comfort, and where we can relax knowing we can belong here. Whether it is the geographic location or the people we meet, we are connected to a mew place and new people.

Friends

No matter where we go, no matter what we do, we will always have the friends from studying abroad. We are so far apart but they can be right there for us. We can visit each other. We can talk to each other. We can feel comfort from each other. We will never be alone, even if it feels like it.

We can say we’ll never get this back or we have nothing to return to, but study abroad has given us more than we had asked for. Even if life at home is not the same, we’ll always have the new people and places we found abroad.

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