Homesickness is normal to experience when you’re abroad, especially for those who live abroad for an extended amount of time. I was blessed to experience very little, if any, of it when I spent two months interning in Ireland. My great adventure of the summer had come to a close – and while I was excited to see my friends and family at home, there was an overwhelming sadness within me. I was leaving an amazing place where I made amazing friends and amazing memories. I was far from ready to part with it, and my first few days back home were quite an adjustment for me. There was a lingering question always on my mind: what do I do now that I’m back from living abroad?
What do you do after you had one of the best and most life-changing experiences of your short twenty-one years on Earth? I wanted nothing more than to talk endlessly about interning abroad, but I soon learned that barely anyone (outside those close to you) is interested in listening to you talk about how “amazing” your summer abroad was. Even in times where it was completely appropriate to bring up my internship in Ireland, I often stopped myself from doing so in fear of sounding like I was bragging.
So, here I was – stuck with all these memories and awesome experiences from living abroad, but with the feeling that I had to “move on” or “get over it” – but not only was I not ready to whisk Ireland away into the past, I felt like it was wrong to do so. In an effort to keep my memories from life abroad alive, I began to incorporate all that I learned in Ireland into these aspects of my life in the US:
1. Food, stores, pubs
This one seems obvious, but depending on where you traveled abroad, it might be hard to navigate. I’m from Chicago, but go to school in Louisville. Both cities have a rich history of Irish immigrants. So, luckily for me, whether I was home or at school, I was able to find restaurants, bars, or stores that helped serve me a plethora of authentic Irish foods, drinks, and products.
At times I didn’t have the luxury of going out, I also tried my hand at making my own Irish cuisine. Irish stews, chicken fillet rolls, and of course, Guinness, were all such a big part of my time abroad and I think I would miss it all an awful bunch if I couldn’t enjoy any of it in the States.
2. Keeping in touch
One of my favorite parts about living abroad was the people I met. Thankfully, I was blessed with a great group of fellow interns that got along despite being so different and were able to explore the country together. Keeping in touch with them for the months after our internships ended has kept me sane. I have visited some of them in their American homes, and we all plan to hopefully take another trip together in the future.
3. Respectfulness & Genuineness
There are certain qualities the citizens of other countries possess that we may not see brought to our attention as much in our home countries. I was in awe of how respectful and genuine the Irish were collectively. I felt like these qualities were something I would be proud to possess and, upon returning to the States, I tried to carry this with me wherever I went.
This one seems like a no-brainer, but I’m surprised with how many people neglect to do this. A few weeks after coming home, I ordered an abundance of pictures I took in Ireland and hung them all around my apartment. I can look up while I’m cooking, watching TV, or doing homework and see my friends and Ireland. It never failed to lift my spirits.
5. ISA Global Ambassador/Study Abroad office
I believe using ISA to study or intern abroad made my experience in Ireland better. They not only made sure I was prepared before my departure, but also continuously checked in with me throughout my internship, and after! The ISA Dublin team also went above and beyond to make sure we were all safe, secure, and felt at home while abroad.
In addition to being vigilant and thorough in my time abroad, ISA offers an awesome opportunity through every university’s study abroad office – called Global Ambassadors. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find time to be a part of it, but being able to talk about your time abroad while also helping other students go abroad themselves, seems pretty awesome to me.