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How to Cope with Post-Study Abroad Sadness

After living in the sunny, beachy, and colorful French Riviera for four months, I was pretty bummed to return home to the drab Illinois. Where were my pretty painted shutters? Where were my fresh baguettes? Where are my new friends who go on beach picnics with me and explore new cities with me and drink espressos at sidewalk cafés with me?

But, ever the optimist, I came up with a list of things I could do in America that would remind me of the things I loved about France. These are things that anyone can do, no matter where they studied abroad, to combat those “why did I ever leave?” blues.

1. Cook something that you ate often while you were abroad.
This could mean looking up the perfect paella recipe to make you feel like you’re in Barcelona again, or making pasta from scratch to remind you of that fantastic cacio e pepe you had in Roma. It could also be as simple as hitting up the fancy cheese section of your supermarket back home to find something similar to the fromage you adored when you were living in France. One thing that I enjoyed was Googling the best places to get macarons near me, because that was one of my favorite treats to eat in Antibes. Taste and scent are powerful senses; use them to bring a piece of your abroad home back to your home in the U.S.

 “Happiness runs in a circular motion” –excerpt from a song about macarons, probably

2. Keep in touch with the friends you made in your host city.

  You may be scattered now, but those people were your community while you were abroad. You laughed together, you probably cried together, and you definitely freaked out together when you heard familiar American music being played when you went out. Stay in touch with FaceTime, social media, or a good old fashioned reunion! I was lucky enough to have one of my closest new friends from Antibes live pretty close to me over the summer. We had picnics (not on the beach like in Antibes, but there was prosciutto and French bread involved) and laughed over all of our shared memories from Europe. It felt just like old times! Also, people who get hopelessly lost on foreign public transportation together STAY together, am I right?

3. Get plugged in with other students who studied abroad.
Get in touch with the study abroad office at your university and see if there are any events coming up where you can talk with other people who have come back from studying abroad, or if there are any chances to share your story with prospective students. It’s a great way to talk to people who relate to your experience. One way to make all of this possible is to apply to become a CEA Alumni Ambassador! By joining this program, I was able to work at study abroad fairs, speak to student organizations on my campus, and encourage many of my fellow students to look into studying abroad. It was also a great way to keep plugged in with other alums of CEA programs through regular meetings where we could talk about how we were doing back on our college campuses. You can apply here:

Another option to connect with other CEA alumni, consider joining the Alumni LinkedIn Network.

Okay, this option might not be as practical as the others while you’re still in college, but even just making plans to visit your host city again over the summer/after graduation/whenever it happens to work can be an exciting thing! Wanderlust is hard to get over, my friends. The thrill of travelling often and experiencing cool new cultures is hard to live without once you’ve gotten a taste for it. Come up with goals that will help you start travelling again. Intern abroad, join a service trip, teach English in a foreign country, or even study abroad again! CEA has a go-again discount for any alums of CEA programs to head somewhere new and continue their study abroad story. (This is what I am doing and I couldn’t be more thrilled. If you need me, I’ll be in Dublin, Ireland this spring with CEA.)

 Don’t let your favorite new accessory just sit around and
collect dust; use it any chance you get!

Either way, just know that you are not alone in post-study abroad sadness! It can be hard to come down to earth after such an exciting time in your life. But there are people who can help you keep that excitement alive. The adventure doesn’t have to end just because you’re home; in fact, the adventure never really has to end! You just need to continue to stay amazed by this world of ours no matter where you are.

Zoey Bloom is a CEA alumna (French Riviera Spring 2015). She is a junior and an Alumni Ambassador at Belmont University.

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