Written by Cole F. Watson.
Adjusting back to the American way of life after studying abroad is tough. For one, you’re now forced to tell everyone about your incredible study abroad experience even though they will never understand how awesome it really was. For that reason, here are some guidelines you can use to tell people about your time abroad.
As soon as you get back, be sure to let everyone know that you were abroad.
This can be done by casually slipping in phrases such as, “When I was in Barcelona last semester…” or “When I was living in Spain…” to any mundane conversation. Additionally, when you find yourself missing your second home, post a picture of your city’s skyline on Facebook with the caption, “where I left my heart” to remind people that you were in a different country not long ago. When you catch up with your friends who stayed here last semester, be sure to remind them how much you miss living abroad.
As long as you have their attention, go on to discuss how the culture, fashion, lifestyle, food, wine, dogs, people, city, and sidewalks were so much better in Spain. Your friends will love to know that the country they’ve lived in all their lives in so much worse than the city you lived in for three months.
After reminding all your friends that you were abroad, it’s time to tell strangers the same thing.
Take every opportunity you can to tell people you were abroad even if it’s not relevant to the immediate conversation. When you order coffee, be sure to let the barista know you mean an actual espresso, not the sugary American macchiato crap. When introducing yourself, mistakenly call yourself Barcelona and quickly follow up with how you now get your names confused because of your new identity. When people ask about your day, be sure to let them know that you were wondering the illuminated streets of Granada a few months ago.
Most importantly, when writing an article about adjusting to life after studying abroad, be sure to mention the fresh seafood you ate and all the cheap wine you drank. By taking this approach, you can tell everyone you meet that you studied abroad.
Now is the time to let people know how special you are because you’ve studied abroad. You’ve seen the sunrise over the Mediterranean. You’ve partied all night at Opium and Otto Zutz. You’ve eaten food that you still can’t pronounce but you know is bonísimo. The point here is to alienate people and make them feel like the “other”. By doing so, you let people know that you are better than them for having all those experiences.
Once people realize how incredible your life was abroad, they’ll realize how difficult it is to adjust back to your life here. The key is to complain about this adjustment at every opportunity you get. People will empathize with you when you tell them about your inability to practice Spanish here because no one understands what you’re saying when you speak it. Es muy importante aprender español a pesar de que nadie en el mundo se puede leer estas palabras. People will slowly begin to understand how difficult your life is after having such unique experiences that no one else in the history of the world has ever had before.
People aren’t just being polite when they ask about your time abroad. They really do want you to go on and on and on and on and on about how wonderful your life was in Spain and how much you miss it there.
Even if you find yourself cutting the extended version of an antidote short or only showing your friends three pictures instead of the thousands that you took, know that your experience will always be yours and no one else’s. At the end of the day, the random flashbacks you have and quick smiles they bring will mean far more to you than telling someone you lived a life worth living while abroad.