Elena Thomas: The Chinese University of Hong Kong
The last month abroad was somewhat mentally and emotionally challenging for multiple reasons. Firstly, the last month was exam/final paper period and I was rather behind in my studies due to the fact I was often travelling/adventuring on weekends rather than studying. At first it took some time to get back into the routine of daily/extended library visits but don’t fear-it’s a bit like riding a bike…Secondly, everyone’s exams finished at different times therefore all of my companions would leave to return home or continue travelling at separate points throughout the month so I often wasn’t able to have a proper goodbye with many of them. Thirdly, being in a tropical place on the opposite side of the planet from my family for Thanksgiving (since I’m american) and Christmas (which is normally very white where I’m from) was really rough.
Returning to Manchester has been a more difficult process than initially anticipated. The main component which I have become very aware of since returning is that everyone else lives continued whilst I was abroad. This sounds like a ridiculously obvious statement but you don’t realise how much it affects you. I now find myself constantly being confused in group conversations amongst my friends and housemates: “Who is this Freddie guy?”, “WHAT they are dating?”, “Oh Jack has dropped out of Uni?” You simply can’t quite grasp the quantity of things which have happened whilst you were away until you physically return. This is of course mendable with time once you’re able to get the general gist of events from everyone.
Secondly, I often find myself having wanderlust after becoming used to travelling to foreign countries nearly every weekend. This will also- unsurprisingly pass but has been an unexpected occurrence. Thirdly, let your friends ask you about your experiences-don’t just regurgitate all of your exciting experiences at them as it is very likely that they will feel jealous/resentful towards you. Fourthly, don’t think of it as an ending of a chapter but the beginning of a new one. Although being an exchange student is a once in a lifetime event, there’s nothing quite like being at your home university and really being a part of it rather than being a temporary passerbyer. You need to re-engage in things and not allow yourself to live in a post abroad mindset. There is also a huge chance that you will be able to rendezvous with abroad friends again in life-I will be meeting up with some friends from Hong Kong in the Netherlands over Easter break thanks to Ryanair!