So You’re Home From Studying Abroad…Now What?

In addition to being the daughter of John F. and Jaqueline Kennedy, Caroline Kennedy is the U.S. Ambassador to Japan. She is also a strong advocate for students studying abroad, saying in a 2016 panel that “It is the best investment you can make in your own future.”

Say you’re convinced (I mean, she is a Kennedy). You find the perfect program; you go; you travel; you experience different cultures and you grow in more ways than you ever imagined. Soon, though, you’re back home, telling stories to your family and friends and you wonder if you can go back to the same “home” routine you had before you left.

Don’t fear, there are ways to incorporate your study abroad life into your home life. Doing so will not only help with the lingering feeling of wanderlust, but you’ll be able to use the knowledge and skills you learned abroad to become a global citizen, as Ambassador Kennedy stressed.

1.Keep a close bond with your study abroad friends

No one can help you reminisce about your travels better than the people you traveled with. Phone calls, group messages, and meet ups can help ease even the worst roam sickness.

Does everyone live in the same city? If so, research restaurants/bars specific to the places you all went. Getting gelato or splurging on the fancy French wine while recalling all of your adventures will leave you with that wanderlust feeling again…

If everyone is spread around the country (or the globe) there are tons of apps perfect for multi-way calls and group messaging, most of which you probably have already used. Group Me, Viber, Facebook Messenger, and WhatsApp all are easy to use. While your phone might blow up from all the notifications that come with group messages, at least they will be texts about your adventures. Google hang outs are always clutch as well!

2. Make a book or video

While this might require a lot of time, it is definitely worth it. Whipping out your phone and pressing play on a video you made or opening a personalized picture book at a family gathering is infinitely better than answering every question you get with, “studying abroad was amazing!”. A picture is worth a thousand words, right? Plus, you get to really go through all the pictures and videos you took, delete the blurry ones, and put the good ones on social media. Having a hard or electronic copy of pictures of things you saw, touched, ate and experienced can also help a lot when you are missing your second home.

3. Write about it

A journal, a blog, a stone and a chisel—anything. But I’m a bad writer, you say. No worries, just write, write, write. Not only will all the practice help you improve your skills, but you will also have a nice portfolio to show during job interviews and your stories will live for years to come. No matter what your major is, you will always have to do some writing, so why not practice by putting pen to paper and writing about all of the amazing things you did and saw while abroad?

4. Volunteer with your study abroad office

This might be the most rewarding way to use all the travel knowledge you gained while abroad. Putting in some time working a study abroad fair or just being an available contact for other students with questions allows you to talk to a lot of people about your experiences and eases the nerves of others! Who knows, the office might even have paid student worker positions available, so you could get money for talking about studying abroad. Which is basically a dream job anyway.

5. Take a class about the place you traveled to

As you are searching all over your course lists trying to find the perfect schedule for next semester, use up some of those electives on a class focused on an aspect of the place you studied abroad in. An Irish history class or an Italian film course might be a snooze fest for your classmates, but it’s surprisingly more fun to learn about cultures you’ve lived in.

6. Change/add to your major/minor

Did you have an epiphany while on a train through the South American countryside that you want to make international affairs part of your future career? Don’t wait and add or change your path of study. International Studies, or the version your school offers, could be an awesome addition to the degree you are already working toward!

Studying abroad is a great asset to any resume, so taking the time to reflect and expand on your experience can help you throughout your amazing professional and personal life.


image via Jackie Ryan

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