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15 Emotional Stages of Returning From Your Year Abroad

Returning home after a year abroad presents a very mixed bag of emotions. You’ll be happy to be back, but with a residual sense of mourning for the country you’ve left behind. Here are just some of the feelings you’ll be faced with over the summer:

1. The most basic things will be very exciting. 

There is such a long list of incredibly boring things that you will suddenly find very exciting. Among these are pre-made sandwiches, supermarkets and lined paper. People will judge you for this, but ignore them. They don’t know the horrors of a world without Pret.#

By way of caution, I feel the need to add that this won’t last long. Pretty soon, a sandwich will once again be a sandwich, so make the most of it.

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2. You’ll be pretty damn smug.

Whether it’s the glorious tan you’ve acquired or your new-found ability to shift between languages at your own behest, your ego will be pretty sizeable and you’ll want people to know about it.

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3. You’ll forget what language to use.

One of your biggest issues when you first return will be language. When you are used to thinking and speaking in a foreign tongue full-time, it’s pretty hard to suppress it as instinct. Most of the time you’ll be absolutely fine, but expect the occasional ‘merci’ to crop up when you least it expect it.

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4. You’ll start to feel very poor.

What goes up, must come down, and moving abroad was certainly an up in financial terms. Generally, things are cheaper on the continent, from alcohol to taxis, so money went a whole lot further. Your return to the UK will hit your bank balance particularly hard, and you’ll have to learn that alcohol is no longer cheaper than water.

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5. You’ll get inventive.

In an effort to curb expenditure and re-capture your year abroad at the same time, chances are you’ll take a stab at the once local cuisine. Aside from the fact that you won’t be able to get hold of most of the ingredients, you’ll probably end up hating the recipe you most loved, so I wouldn’t advise a DIY paella. 

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6. You’ll make some cultural errors.

Stop listening in on other people’s conversations just because you think they’re foreign. It’s not endearing, it’s just odd. Also, try to remember that back in England, people don’t rub noses to say hello, there is no third kiss on the cheek and you won’t be thanked for clapping in a stranger’s face.

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7. You’ll ruin your house with year abroad memorabilia.

It won’t feel like clutter now, but that sombrero you so treasure will eventually lose its place in your heart, and you’ll feel pretty silly for  having fought your mum to make it the centre-piece at the family dining table.

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8. You’ll play songs from the dark ages.

The power of the YouTube is yet to be exploited in a large number of European countries. My advice? Don’t back yourself as resident DJ at your first pre-drinks in the country. You’ll have to feel your way back from the musical darkness that is foreign radio.

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9. You’ll begin to feel left behind.

Not only have most of your friends graduated, but they’ve also got jobs, which makes seeing them really tricky. It’s hard to go back into education when your friends have moved on and are making money for themselves, but you’ll get there too, and thanks to your year abroad, you’ll have had a much better time doing it.

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10. And university will be pretty lonely to start with.

In most cases, university only lasts three years, and you spend the majority of it with the same group of friends The problem is, naturally, you’ll have associated the city with them, which is going to have to change now. It’s important to remember that you’ll make new friends and new memories, but the first few weeks back can feel like a big step backwards in the university food chain.

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11. So, you’ll begin to re-evaluate your entire future. 

You’ll do everything and anything to claw your way back to where you’ve just been. That big city job you’ve been planning since you were 7 isn’t looking nearly as tempting as being a prison guard in the arse end of Spain.

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12. And you’ll prioritise your friendships.

Friends that will want to sit down for hours and watch you indulge yourself in memories of your time away are few and far between. The solution? Only see the ones that do. You’ll find that you surround yourself with people that want to be back abroad just as much as you do.

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13. Until you realise you’ve become that person.

”Me? ah! well, I’ve just been on a year abroad in…”

When 90% of your conversations start with this sentence, it’s time to either go back to where you came from or just let it go.

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14. Then the questions will change.

As people lose interest in your year abroad, the questions will change from ‘what did you visit?’ and ‘who did you meet?’, to questions that pertain to your actual, real, current life, and you’ll have to change with them.

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15. But eventually, you’ll start to feel at home again.

When all is said and done, your year abroad was never going to last forever. You’ll learn to appreciate it for what it was and get on with your life. After all, the country isn’t going anywhere, and wouldn’t it be nice to go back when you aren’t on a student budget? Yes. It’s time to say goodbye for now.

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