It feels so strange! You’ve spent a year living and studying in a foreign country, away from your friends and family and now you’re back, exactly where it all began. What do you do with yourself now?… by Ella Hillyard
People react to coming home from a year abroad differently – some people find it a relief to be home and fit right back into home life, others find it difficult to readjust after a year of so many changes and feel homesick about their host country. Maybe you’ll feel a mixture of both. However you feel, it doesn’t have to end there. Continue to make the most of your year abroad, starting with these steps:
Keep in touch with all the people you’ve met
Being an international student in a foreign university means you’ve probably picked up friends from all over the world. It can be hard, in the rush of arriving home and seeing all the people you’ve missed, to keep in contact with all these people, especially as time differences can make conversations difficult. Try and drop them a message every few weeks to see how they’re doing, or maybe arrange a day of the week where you can have a proper chat via Facetime or Skype. Given that you’ve been through so much together and share so many memories, these people could be your friends for life. Also they can be great if you ever want a local guide in another country, or help with your language practise. You can never know too many people.
Don’t stop practising the language skills you’ve picked up
If you’ve been studying in a country where English is not the native language, then you’re bound to have improved your language set. Whether you’re now a fluent French speaker or if you’ve just picked up the basics of Danish, keep going and build on what you’ve learnt. Living in a foreign country is the best way to learn a language, so don’t lose it. Have conversations with friends from your host country, catch up with the series you started binging there and reading books you discovered. Try and keep up-to-date with the local news of the city/area you stayed in – whether it’s small town gossip or international news. If you’re not already studying the language, think about taking a follow up class – [email protected] have free classes taught by native students. Having an extra language makes you much more employable and it’s a great talking point too, you’ll be kicking yourself if you let yourself forget it.
Don’t forget to fill in your forms
The devil works hard, but the folks in the study abroad office sure do work harder! Just because you’re home and have no more work to do for the holidays does not mean you can put the year abroad forms to the back of your mind. If you’re required to do the Online Linguistic Survey (OLS) don’t forget to do it, otherwise you won’t get sent the final part of your grant. Also don’t forget to fill in the final 30% of the grant receipt when you get it and make sure that Warwick have your transcript of studies. If the study abroad team contact you, asking to upload a form or saying you’re missing information, respond to them straight away and try and get it done as soon as possible. Make their life easier and don’t make them hound you down for the last few forms, which can be found here.
Regardless of your degree, host university or future career path, the year abroad is a really valuable experience and you should continue to make the most of it even once you’ve finished. Remember to follow these points and to never forget all the things you’ve learnt this year. Whatever your experience has been during your year abroad, I hope it’s been a good one.