So you’ve just returned home from an amazing, once in a lifetime study abroad program; now what? The dust has settled from the craze of submitting exams, packing your belongings, and making it back across the ocean in one piece. The next few weeks can be a mix of exhaustion, readjusting to a different way of life, happy to be reunited with family and friends back home, missing the new friends you just made, and excited to start planning for your future. That’s a lot to process! Aside from making sure I unpack in time and am prepared for fall semester to begin, there are a few things I’m trying to do to make this transition period as smooth as possible.
First, keeping in touch with the friends I made while abroad. Even though we’re all from the United States, ironically, we had to travel across the ocean to meet! Most people I knew before this live near me, but now I have the connections and another reason to visit places I’ve never seen before. The distance and our busy schedules resuming make this difficult, but there are many ways to stay connected. Of course, phones and social media are the easiest ways, and don’t forget to keep your group chats alive! If you want to get a bit more creative, go buy some fun stamps and revive the snail mail method! I bought a few postcards before leaving Cambridge and can’t wait to send them out.
Whether you were taking courses or doing an internship, it’s essential to apply what you’ve learned to your studies back home. What better way to get the most value out of your program than to continue learning and building that knowledge? The courses I took at Cambridge were quite different from anything being taught or discussed in my program back home, and because of it, I’m able to take a new angle to my independent research and class projects. Taking a break from your usual curriculum and seeking opportunities for interdisciplinary studies can make a huge difference in what you produce and bring fresh ideas to your work!
Last, and possibly most important, stay in contact with your professors, faculty, supervisors or coworkers. No matter what you want to pursue after graduating, the network you build up is just as powerful as your skill set and resume. You never know what kind of opportunities might arise from these connections, and you’re at a great advantage having met them through your program. Don’t be afraid to ask them for further advice, share articles they might be interested in, or ask around for any research or job openings if you’re looking for a next step. The benefits of studying abroad can continue long after your plane lands back home; don’t let it go to waste!