Student Blogs & Vlogs | College Study Abroad Programs, IFSA-Butler

It’s like I never left

They told me about the culture shock upon returning home. They told me I’d go through mood swings and have a hard time adjusting to life at home, both in school and with family.

But culture didn’t shock me…yet?

I expected a lot of things to happen when I came back to the United States, but not this. It’s actually been a very smooth transition.

Everything that happened in Costa Rica, from the flights there to the flights back, feel like a dream, like it never happened. All of the experiences I had and the sights I saw seem like something out of a movie.

Instead, I’m right back in “regular” life, where everybody speaks English, accepts American dollars, knows me as the Zach Cohen the student journalist and not as Zach Cohen the barely-proficient-in-Spanish gringo. Nobody and nothing has changed.

I spent the first few days back home watching TV, sleeping and eating all the American foods I missed so much. Then I went to D.C. to see friends and step on campus (pinned below) again. As I finish penning this blog post, I’m back in Massachusetts, where I began my journey. It’s been a glorious week and a half.

But I can’t stop thinking about, and talking about, Costa Rica.

Everything in that country that always felt so close now seems farther away, more distant. Already my memory has started to fade. The vision of my commute to school, the long bus rides to jungles and beaches, all appear more hazy than they did only a few days ago. All that remains are trinkets and photos.

I do miss Costa Rica, especially the coffee, the fresh fruit and, most importantly, my host family, with whom I still keep in touch via Facebook. But that chapter in my life is closed, and I’m satisfied with my experiences there.

I learned Spanish.

I made friends. Many amazing friends.

I explored new places and experienced amazing sights.

I learned to relax and embrace pura vida.

I even got a chance to be an international correspondent.

Costa Rica will always be a part of me, and it’s bittersweet to wish it farewell. The main thought that keeps me from feeling lost is the hope that I’ll return one day.

But until then, I’m grateful for the last four months. I wouldn’t trade them for anything.


This is my last blog post for IFSA-Butler. If you’ve been following along for the last semester, I sincerecly hope you’ve enjoyed my dispatches, both cogent and not. It warms my heart every time I hear from one of you about my blog, and I’m grateful (especially as we celebrate Thanksgiving) to have friends and family who care enough to read my ramblings.

If you’re just starting to read my posts now (or are considering studying abroad), you can find all of my posts here. Take a trip to Costa Rica through my eyes. If you’re so inclined, take a trip there yourself. The country makes it worth it. I humbly hope my attempts to portray Costa Rica do it justice.


Check out the rest of my adventure throughout Costa Rica here at IFSA-Butler’s blog, at my blog, on Twitter or even on Facebook.


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One Response to “It’s like I never left”

  1. Michelle Says:

    Zach, it’s been such a pleasure to read your blog this semester! I studied abroad in CR with IFSA 12 years ago, and I can tell you the experience will probably always feel like a dream. But it will feel like the most vivid dream, the kind of dream from which you awake and wonder “Was that real?” until slowly pieces and parts of your “regular” life are infiltrated by that dream. Zach, right now it may seem like you never left, but indeed you never really came back at all.
    No, you won’t always brush your teeth with bottled water and, yes, your days of lukewarm showers are mostly behind you. But your mouth will always water at the thought of fresh coffee and gallo pinto and masa tortillas; the smell of bus exhaust will take you back to the Coca-Cola station at an un-godly hour; the World Cup tournament will mean more than it ever did before (if it ever did at all); and when you return to Costa Rica– yes, I promise you will return– it will be like coming home. In a way that will make you think, yet again, “it’s like I never left.”

    Good luck in your continued re-entry and please find a way to keep in touch with your IFSA-Butler family far and wide!

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