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The After-Effects of Studying Abroad: What to Expect

June 1, 2017

My semester abroad flew by; just a few short months ago I was waiting to board my flights to France, and now, I’m already on my way home.

After studying in a French immersion program in Aix-en-Provence, I’ve gone from using French (almost) every day back to hardly using it at all. Next semester, back home in Tennessee, I’ll only have one French class. I spent so much time working on my second language, both in and out of the classroom, this semester. I don’t want to regress or forget all of the new things that I learned. So, I’ll practice any way that I can (this usually involves having conversations with myself in my head). I’ll text my friends from France in French; I’ll watch movies and listen to music. Just because I’ve left France, it doesn’t mean that I can’t continue to learn and improve.

There’s something about new friends in new places - it creates an instant bond. The friends that you’ll make studying abroad are like the ones that you made at summer camp when you were a kid. You didn’t really know them long, but the intensity of a quickly burning friendship makes it heartbreaking to leave them behind. Luckily for us, we live in the world of Skype and FaceTime. It’s easier than ever to keep in touch with people, so do it! I certainly will. My time in France was defined by the friends that I made there; we were always there to laugh with each other when nobody could understand the server when he gave us the wifi password, we were always there to support each other and to explore together. We were just always together. I can’t imagine this semester without them.

Going home after an adventure is always tough, but it’s also exciting; adventures really can happen anywhere. Right now, writing this, I am in an airport in Stockholm. I’ve already been gone from France, where I studied, for a couple of weeks. I have spent the last two weeks exploring and catching up with old friends in Latvia. I already miss all of the places I saw and I’ll of the friends that I spent time with. But I know that one day, I’ll be back, so right now I’m excited to go home. I’m excited to see my nearly 5-year-old nephew and to eat American breakfast food (ask me how much I missed soy bacon). I’m excited to spend the summer at home, to share stories and photos from my time in France with friends and family.

Studying abroad was a great adventure. In a couple of months, I’ll start my next one: senior year and senior thesis. After a semester away, I’m ready to be back at East Tennessee State University, back in the mountains.

So, to those also returning home from study abroad at the end of this semester: cherish what you learned (and keep learning), hold tight to the friends that you made, and remember the places you saw. For those preparing to embark on your study abroad adventure: learn new things, make new friends, and see new places; this really is a time that will stay with you for the rest of your life.

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