Cayla Graner is a student at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and an ISA Guest Alumni Blogger. She studied and interned abroad with WorldStrdes ISA Custom Programs and ISA Internships in Sydney, Australia, in the Spring of 2017.
You’ve done it. You’ve studied abroad. You have now officially checked off something on your bucket list that not very many people get to do. You’ve lived your life to the fullest… but now you have to come back.
Life after coming back from studying abroad is a bit of a roller coaster. You’ve lived extravagantly for a certain period of time and got to do something new every day. The plus side is that you’ve probably just had the best experience of your life. The minus side to that is that you may feel like you have officially peaked in college.
When I first got back from my trip to Sydney, Australia, it was all a bit overwhelming. I was excited to see my friends and family and catch up on everything that I had missed while I was gone.
I soon realized, however, that my life was far more interesting abroad than back home. I struggled with feeling like I was wasting precious time and life by not doing something new each day. I also would compare everything to when I lived in Australia and felt like there was so many things that America could be doing better.
But what I think I miss the most is having friends to share my experience with. I was able to spend my time abroad with 14 amazing students, and we all shared crazy and amazing moments together that no one else can really understand.
At first, my friends and family wanted to hear all about my trip, but soon they would all ignore me or be annoyed every time I started a sentence with, “When I was in Australia…” I still get to see some of my roommates around my college campus, but there are times when I’m out and something reminds me of when I studied abroad. I can’t tell anyone, or if I do, they just don’t understand how much studying abroad changed my life.
I thought studying abroad would get rid of my travel bug, but instead I am constantly thinking about travelling to the next country!
I don’t regret studying abroad, and neither should you if you are thinking about doing it. But I’ve had to learn that not every day can be filled with new adventures, although we can always create new adventures even in our daily lives.
One of the ways that I have incorporated new adventures into my life is simply looking around. Before studying abroad, I thought that Knoxville, my hometown, was just a small, boring city with nothing to do or see. Since coming back from studying abroad, I have seen that there are a ton of small businesses and cool places that are unique to Knoxville and almost as cool as Australia. Knoxville has a lot of outdoor places to see and visit, but the downtown and urban areas of Knoxville have seemed to explode in the past couple of years. Although I can’t always get out and explore every day, I try to make a habit of not having a daily routine. I’m trying to check out a new restaurant every time I eat out. I’ve started getting coffee at a cool local coffee shop downtown. Also, I’m talking to friends about cool places that they’ve been to and trying to go to a new place each weekend.
I set a New Year’s resolution this past year to try something new every day. It has been a little difficult with a busy work and school schedule to do this, but I think being trying to break the daily schedule is a great start for anyone looking to keep that adventure side of their hearts happy.
I have been able to stay in touch with three of my old roommates from Australia, and I can say that they are some of my best friends. I can share moments and memories with them throughout the year. We have even started a GroupMe to share every day struggles and memories with each other.
Becoming an ambassador for ISA has also been a great outlet for me. I get to talk about my experience abroad and encourage other college kids to study abroad too. I can tell my favorite stories from my trip to hundreds of different students who will never get tired of hearing about my amazing experiences. If you are thinking about becoming an ambassador after you come back from your study abroad trip, I would 100 percent recommend that you do it!
Studying abroad is great, but beware: you will not come back the same.
Your Discovery. Our People… The World Awaits.