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An American Abroad: Post Study Abroad Depression

September 27, 2016

post study abroad depression

Post Study Abroad Depression has many stages

I thought the first few weeks back in the USA were hard, but this right now is a thousand times harder.

Going back to school and experiencing the endless one year anniversaries of when I was galavanting across Europe is pretty rough.

My time abroad feels like another life. It feels like I pressed pause, went away for a year, and now I’m un-pausing. Compartmentalization (wow big word) is apparently a very common side effect to Post Study Abroad Depression.

Your experiences abroad are starkly different to your normal routine at home… so you take all these incredible, unique experiences and pack them away into a separate mental box. It’s a very weird phenomenon and difficult to explain. But believe me, it’s very real. Suddenly studying abroad feels a lot like a dream or a movie I saw once.

Yes, Post Study Abroad Depression is a real thing. A real thing that clearly has many frustrating cycles and stages.

The first cycle is during the days and weeks right after you return. It’s much more definitive and people tend to be more empathetic towards your reverse culture shock.

The second cycle is when you realize it’s been a year since you did *insert awesome thing you did/place you visited abroad*. You start thinking about what you were doing “this time last year” every. single. day.

I even miss the things I hated. Give me that horrible hard water! I’ll sprinkle some bottle water on my hair again if it means one more day wandering the streets of London.

Another huge part of coming home (especially having been gone for an entire school year) is that you lose a lot of friends/acquaintances. True friends will be waiting for you with open arms. But that friend you had in that one class who you got lunch with on Tuesdays? Don’t count on it. I’m a senior, so I’ve also lost friends who graduated or transferred. Suddenly my old campus is feeling very lonely.

People ask me: “Do you regret leaving for a year?”
My answer? Yes.

I regret leaving for a year, but I certainly don’t regret WHY I left for a year. I regret missing a year at home, but I don’t regret spending a year abroad. It’s a strange dichotomy.

Now for the nostalgic list that I almost teared up writing…

Here are 16 Things I Miss About the UK.

  1. Flake bars
  2. London: Truly the best city in the world.
  3. Cooler weather
  4. Being steeped in history everywhere I go.
  5. The accents.
  6. Tesco.
  7. The lingo: My vocabulary has been changed forevermore.
  8. Pizza Express dough balls: with the garlic butter
  9. Cider: Seriously, America, where’s the Thatchers? Rattler? Rekorderlig? I don’t want beer. I want cider.
  10. Public Transport: My love for the tube and GWR is endless.
  11. Day trips to Oxford.
  12. Pub culture
  13. Chips: Because chips in the UK are always steak fries… and that’s amazing.
  14. Big Ben: Is it weird that I could probably stare at a clock for hours? And honestly never take enough photos of it?
  15. Boots: A utopian world of makeup.
  16. The architecture: Cobble stoned streets, old buildings, castles, quaint pubs… I miss living on the set of period drama.

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