They say all good things must come to an end. So, yes, that includes your adventures abroad. But that isn’t to say you won’t take the experiences with you long after you’ve had one last medialuna and cafe cortado, closed your notebook during the final Spanish lessons in Argentina, gave un beso to your host mother and said nos vemos pronto to Buenos Aires. In fact, things may change once you arrive home whether it is blatantly obvious to you or not. Here’s how:
Change #1: You’ll want more.
Routine becomes a thing of the past. You crave the adrenaline of trying new things, meeting new people and mixing things up on the daily. So don’t be surprised if you start planning your next trip abroad as soon as you get home!
Change #2: You’ll find yourself thinking in Spanish.
Especially if you took intensive Spanish lessons in Argentina, you may catch yourself yelling out “che” to someone instead of “hey man” to your friends.
And another thing: during a conversation, Spanish words may pop in your head first while you can’t even think of the word in English (or whatever your native lingo may be).
You think: But wait, isn’t English my mother tongue?! **Friends stare blankly at you because you forgot your own native language.**
Change #3: Home becomes a place that exists in many parts of the world.
Maybe you had a homestay and really connected with your host family. Perhaps you made a good friend who lives on the other side of the world like you. Or it could be you just really became comfortable in your temporarily rented room in Buenos Aires.
Either way, you miss some things about that life and it’s easy to begin to feel as though home exists in many parts of the world once you have studied abroad.
Change #4: Confidence spikes way up.
Moving away from college invokes a new sense of independence and confidence for sure. But everyone in the dorm/area may be in the same situation as you and your parents were probably a phone call away.
During study abroad, time zone differences get in the way of calling home for every little thing and you are left with the need to make quick decisions in order to make it from point A to point B; to communicate with new people. Basically, you need to trust in yourself very much to live abroad successfully.
Ninety-nine times out of 100, the experience strengthens a person and boosts their confidence as they learn they can rely on themselves to handle anything that comes their way.
Change #5: You know yourself better (+ how you can learn things quicker).
Yes, you still learn inside a classroom during study abroad. But classes are always accompanied by multi-media materials and complemented by activities like historic tours, cultural exchange nights, lectures around the city, and dance classes.
Classes are hands-on, open to questions and new ideas, engaging. You get your hands on newspaper ads and pop culture films and hilarious YouTube videos and songs and student conversations and celebrity impressions and dark history facts and well…you get the idea.
You are bound to find the way you love to learn. Maybe it was through audio or through conversation, but study abroad teaches through a range of motions that most students are not exposed to in a standard high school classroom or large university lecture.
You discover which type of learner you are and then —boom!—learning becomes a whole lot easier. You take this with your during new language endeavors, office tasks, and anything else.
BONUS: Your life back home doesn’t change.
You are the entity that has changed, not your hometown. This is an awesome thing to remember if you have yet to embark on a study abroad program (so you don’t feel overwhelmed with the process of leaving home…because it will be right there waiting for you when you return!).
But it’s also important to keep in mind when you arrive back home after being away for weeks or months because sometimes the return is underwhelming. You are living in the place you know so well but with a new perspective of the world and that’s why people, places, and things may seem different.
During your time abroad, you will have a different experience than the next person. Just don’t be surprised if it changes your worldview, major in college, a direction in life, you know….just a few small things!