The Ugly Truths of Study Abroad Withdrawal

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In a perfect world, the rest of your college days would be spent exactly like when you were studying abroad. Your days would be filled with 10 minute lectures in front of famous landmarks, you’d get four hours to eat lunch at a farmer’s market and take a nap and a plentiful amount of cultural booze would accompany you as you frolicked in the midnight streets just “being” one of the locals. Too bad, but that wine glass you’re holding is half empty because study abroad is over and you’re back to drinking Barefoot while standing at the kitchen counter. With study abroad withdrawal comes a flume of ugly truths that no one may have warned you about.

Those Friendships Are Harder to Keep Than You Thought

It was just so easy. You were kind of lined up to be friends, but in a good way. After trekking around the city, complaining about having to study while studying abroad and sharing deep dark drunken secrets with each other for weeks, you vowed to get together everyday when you returned home. Now it’s two months later and you realize that everyone else has other friends, other commitments and that it’s just not as easy as when you were gallivanting through your study abroad adventure together. It’s rough to always be the one starting group messages. It’s also semi-awkward saying Hi to the semi-friends you made. Should you wave or strike up a forced conversation?

Your At-Home Friends Really Just Want You to Shut Up

When I lived abroad my life was better than yours,” might be what your at-home friends hear whenever you talk about your old travel life. Sure they’re happy that you’ve found yourself, but they weren’t there and they can’t really relate to drinking champagne with your professors in a foreign country. These friends are tired of hearing you say, “Ugh I miss eating that super awesome foreign food from that restaurant that loved us,” “ Remember those awesome travelers we met in that bar?” and “This country sucks, I wish I was back in study abroad land.” It’s like any drunken story or recap of a crazy dream; they can’t relate so they can only take so much.

You Won’t Remember What you Learned

Let’s face it. You crammed for those final exams, but you probably skimmed the required reading while on public transportation to a weekend getaway. Study abroad was a great opportunity to broaden your education, but in truth, it’s the culture and everyday life that proved to be the most invigorating. Nonetheless, the information that you stuffed into your brain will potentially dwindle down, as it may after any course, leaving you feeling a little remorseful that you didn’t study a little harder. But hey, you bought the books and went to class (for the most part) so that goes into the grading scale.

You’ll Miss That Foreign Romance

A new face and a foreign place sparked those movie-worthy feelings and events, but sadly now you’re home and it’s over. Maybe the circumstances here have a little more baggage than you were anticipating or maybe your heart didn’t make it onto the plane home to saneness. Nevertheless, there’s still something there and you’re driving yourself insane daydreaming. You can tell yourself that you’ll visit her every summer and write her everyday for a year, but there’s only one Ryan Gosling, sorry.

Your Facebook Album Has Been Seen, Liked and Forgotten

Your friends liked your Facebook album and commented on your 3000 Instagram posts, but now the visual sparks of your adventure have died down. You may resort to changing your profile picture everyday, but just remember: Everyone can only see so many pictures of you with your arms up in front of famous buildings, your back turned to the camera on a mountain top and pictures of sunsets with your feet in the bottom of the frame.

You Want to Travel Again but You’re Broke

Bottles of booze, a few scoops of ice cream a day and train tickets to different capital cities have filled you to the brim with happiness while simultaneously exhausting your bank account. It was just so easy to take weekend trips, shop for foreign clothes (some were meant for gifts, right?) and indulge in three-course meals. Even so, your broadened palate is reduced to varied ramen recipes, and you’ve resumed that seat at that minimum wage job. You’ll have to give the globetrotting expenses a break, but at least pinning pictures of your souvenirs is free.

Haley is a senior Creative Writing major and French minor at the University of Washington. When she's not sipping wine and attempting her own great American novel, she's probably eating ice cream or persuading her friends to get ice cream with her. If her hypothetical books never reach the shelves, you'll find her in her fallback career as a gymnastics coach or bakery owner.

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