Moving to a new city can be difficult. New people, languages, culture and food. It is normal to feel overwhelmed by the differences and it takes time to adapt. But often, these challenges are overcome in time, and they make you a more globally aware and respectful person. Learning new things is fun. Reflecting on what you learnt is powerful and helps you realise how you have grown as a person.
It is normal to talk about culture shock, but little emphasis is placed on the feelings experienced upon arriving home. The hardest part of the whole experience, which nobody talks about. My usual response to ‘how was it?’ is ‘fine,’ not because that is the case, but simply because it is not possible to sum up an experience in a sentence. Often not in a paragraph, article, or book. Living abroad is life changing. You cannot explain the feeling of taking everything you thought you knew and took for granted and shaking it up until it is unrecognisable. And after getting home, you are left with a strange sensation of feeling as though nothing has changed, but knowing everything has.
The first few weeks are great, you’re Hollywood and everyone wants a piece of you, to catch up on missed time. But after that the inevitable questions arise. What are you going to do now? Do you have a job lined up? A marriage? A family? Maybe a little dramatic, but you get the picture. Suddenly you realise the things you once attributed the most importance to just don’t matter anymore. Your hopes, dreams and goals are different. Balancing these emotions with in an environment you ought to know can feel strange. Maybe you question where you do actually fit in.
Take it gradually. Don’t try and cram seeing everyone you know in the first few days. Give yourself some breathing space, it’s alright not to know exactly what you are going to do when you now. Find the positives in difference and don’t dwell on what could have been, see how your experiences can help shape your future. And most importantly, never forget how fortunate it is to be able to explore the world and alter your mindset, only 5% of the global population will travel on a plane in their lives.