Life After Study Abroad

Katie Mitchell is a student at Colorado State University and an ISA Featured Blogger. She studied abroad with ISA in Meknes, Morocco.

Chances are the end of this year’s study abroad is coming to a close. In Morocco, our program ended on April 27th, leaving a lot of us with time to travel before heading home for summer classes or jobs.

During a sit-down with one of my professors in Meknes, we held a roundtable discussion about what we were nervous and excited for in the transition to home-life. The shift into life in the United States feels daunting — the reverse culture shock is real. But for many of us, home is still a far ways off. This transition from slow travel to almost constant transit days will be a culture shock of its own.

After three to four months of living in a new city and making it our home, there will be a much faster pace of life with the rush to catch trains, planes, new hostels, and languages. It will be similar to the first week in the host country over and over again; everything is new and exciting, there are always fresh faces and landmarks to explore. 

Mural in Marrakech, Morocco. Photo credit: Katie Mitchell.

Shockingly, not many people want to hear about the time spent studying abroad. Many people refer to the “10-picture maximum” rule for listening about their friends’ vacations to keep from the droning boredom of beach photos, but what is the equivalent for talking about multiple months away?

A few tips for sharing your journey with your friends and family-

  • It was a new place, yes, but it was also daily life. Refrain from comments like “in Morocco,” and instead use, “in March,” to begin stories. It then places the importance of the story on the events, not the place.
  • Create a photo album on Facebook with photos to share with friends, and just refer them to the album. This way, they can go look if they actually care and they can tastefully ignore them if they do not. No awkward encounters are necessary.

When it comes to dealing with reverse culture shock and missing your home-away-from-home, journaling, looking back on photos, and eating at restaurants from the host country are a few suggestions that might make it a bit easier. It is natural to feel some homesickness for your host country, but is easy to build up excitement for the next adventure. Long-term traveling is a way to refresh perspectives and renew the addiction to the road.

Backpacking on Jbel Toubkal, the second most prominent mountain in Africa. Photo credit: Katie Mitchell.

Sometimes it takes leaving the spaces you have become used to in order to see the beauty they hold.

Your Discovery. Our People… The World Awaits.

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