Saying goodbye to friends abroad can be a bittersweet and emotional time. Students generally are excited to return home and share their experience, but after spending a semester or a year in the host culture, it may have started to feel like home.
Most students leave saying, “I’ll be back,” and many do return to their host country. However, life is unexpected—plans change, people change, and the host country will change as well. Don’t put off any adventures for the next trip and don’t put off saying goodbye; there might not be another opportunity to eat at a favorite restaurant, tell a new friend how much they will be missed, or see that museum.
Keep a journal, take lots of pictures, and do all the tourist things in the host city before leaving. Be prepared that life in the U.S. will not seem the same as before. Study abroad changes students, and re-entry adjustment can be just as challenging as the initial adjustment to the foreign culture. Below are some questions to think about in preparation for returning home:
- What am I most looking forward to about being home? What am I least looking forward to?
- How have I changed?
- How will my friends and family say I have changed?
- What do I want to share with them about my experience?
- How am I going to deal with it if they seem bored after 5 minutes?
- What about my study abroad experience do I never want to forget?
- What have I learned from studying abroad: personally, academically, professionally?
- How will my study abroad experience fit into my studies? My future career plans?