Coming Home After Semester Abroad


By zelenkal

So last week I attended a Pre-Departure Orientation, originally aimed at helping future GW students to prepare for their semester abroad. Well, it turned out to be a pre-departure orientation for me as well. The end of this semester is drawing near and I am slowly making arrangements for my return; I can’t believe I have already booked a cab to take me to the airport in 3 weeks. Last week it was the first time I have ever heard of a phenomena called “reverse culture shock.” Basically it means that getting over the problematic part during one’s semester abroad is not the end of all troubles. I am to expect hard times after my arrival. This session made me ask myself, what are the things I got used to here that I will miss so much back home, and what are the things I will just find odd back home after a few months away.

Firstly, I am certainly afraid of the responsibilities that will be really overwhelming after I get back. This fear is even more pronounced when I compare the service provided by GW employees to a rather rude way of dealing with students back home. Similarly to this, I am also afraid I will miss the American shop assistants. As much as this is a duty and a habit at the same time, it always helps when people around welcome you warmly. Nice behavior and interest people take in you made me a little self-conscious in the beginning, it was an unfamiliar behavior to me after all. The minute I got used to it, I fully appreciated such situations.

Secondly, I will miss the comfort of a campus. As much as the dorms and other forms of housing are always within 10 minutes from school building, I will have to get used to the fact that I will not be able to stop by at home in between the lessons, and that commuting will also take me some time. I will also miss having a good cup of coffee, gym, and whatnot just around the corner.

Thirdly, I will miss this exploring. Not that the sense of being in a foreign environment is utterly appealing, but I think the fact that there is a limited time of your life in this place will be really missed. It made me value my time much more, since I’ve always regretted wasting it – this feeling is, of course, even more significant when the day count to my departure dropped under 30. I don’t really think I have explored all Prague, or all Czech Republic, but I certainly am more motivated here just to go out and enjoy seeing something new.

Finally, I will miss the non-stop opened library. My schedule here is a little uncommon and I understand this might not be the study abroad experience one craves for, but I have enjoyed the solitary Friday and Saturday nights on the 6th floor in Gelman. I am usually busy during the day, so this was always an option to catch up on work.

There are other reasons for me to be afraid of coming to me as I am writing. However, the most frightening aspect of all is the fact that I only have three more weeks before I find myself there.


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