Smile Because It Happened
I have now officially been back in the United States for a week. Nine days, if we’re being exact. When I went to Edinburgh, I was fortunate to avoid any real culture shock or homesickness. I haven’t been quite as lucky with what they call ‘reverse culture shock.’ In situations like this, people often bring up that Dr. Seuss quote: ‘Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened,’ so I’m trying to follow his advice. I was and am glad to be home. I had missed my family and things like running on the beach, driving, and walking my dogs, and it was good to be back and just revel in the comfort and familiarity of being home. However, I am definitely having Edinburgh withdrawals and have already started planning how to get back. Because I have dual citizenship with the EU, I could potentially very easily return to Scotland to live and work for a bit. At my lowest point this week, I was looking up flats in Edinburgh.
One of the facets of reverse culture shock is having difficulty fitting ‘the new you’ (because you will inevitably grow and change in your time abroad) into your old life. This has probably been the biggest problem for me. I evolved, in both major and minor ways, over the course of the semester and it’s kind of strange being back home and trying to fit back in. To use an unnecessary and overdone metaphor, it’s kind of like I’m a puzzle piece that doesn’t go in the space you’re trying to put it in. If you try hard enough, you can squeeze it into the spot, but it doesn’t actually fit there. It’s not a bad thing, necessarily, I just have to start the process of reconfiguring my life in the States so it’s more compatible with who I am now, as opposed to who I was five months ago. Another huge adjustment has been going from being totally independent and dictating my own schedule, really only having to worry about myself, to being back home and living with my family where that’s not the case. This is another typical side effect of studying abroad, and most people experience it even just after going to college or moving away from home and then coming back.
I’m sure I’ll get more adjusted as the weeks go by, and getting back into some kind of routine will help. It’s also nice having things to look forward to this summer and making plans with my friends here to fill the time I would otherwise probably just spend longingly flipping through my photos from the semester. But even in the unlikely event that I never actually fully readjust to being home, studying abroad was totally and completely worth it. I’ve said it (many times) before and I’ll say it again – coming to Edinburgh was probably the best decision I’ve ever made and I cannot recommend studying abroad there highly enough.