As the last few days of our study abroad experience are beginning to wind down – I cannot help but be nervous to head back home. I feel like I have grown accustomed to so many things, which only a short time ago felt foreign and strange. It is hard to imagine our group, four months ago, wondering the streets of London with dropped jaws and wide eyes. But the truth is, after immersing yourself in a new culture you not only become habituated to their way of life, but you begin to become comfortable and feel at home.
I laugh every time we have taken a weekend trip, because on the plane home it never fails that someone says, “Geeze, I sure am tired from all this traveling. I just can’t wait to get back to our cozy flat.”
That once cold and empty flat has been filled with love and although it has had its fair share of drama, messes, and even a few mice – it has made a difference in each of our lives. The thought of packing up and leaving this city not only breaks my heart but also makes me question what American things will I have a hard time readjusting to now?
I have not driven a car for four months and although I once dreaded figuring out public transportation, I have grown to love my commutate back to work because it gives me time to indulge in a good book.
I have learned to walk, eat a Panini and hold a cup of tea, all without spilling a drop – where will I get my favorite ‘cuppa’ when I return home?
I have adjusted to carrying a larger purse, one that can hold a map and umbrella. What do I need a map for when I get home? You can’t really get lost on campus!
I have complained about being cold although it has been in the 40’s here, how am I going to deal with the FEET of snow?
I have gotten used to being surrounding by many different languages and cultures, I will miss hearing French, German, Arabic, and so forth each day as I was down the road. Where can I find that kind of diversity back home?
I have fallen in love with living in a cosmopolitan city with something always going on, how am I going to handle being surrounding by farms!
I have been intrigued by all sorts of history – from palaces to museums, there is always something to learn in London. Wisconsin will seem so boring and drab compared to this ancient city.
While I could continue to list off changes for pages and pages, I have come to realize that my best chance at adjusting is to do exactly what I did when I got here – return with both an open mind and optimistic attitude.
Luanne Spence is studying abroad in London, England, with the Foundation for International Education (FIE).