You’ve just spent a whole year away from home and now the summer holidays are looming. If you’re returning to your roots for your time off, it can feel exciting, daunting or even scary to go back in your hometown.
You’ve undoubtedly had incredible experiences that have shaped you throughout your study abroad experience, so returning home can sometimes feel like trying to squish back into a favourite outfit that you’ve since outgrown.
Nonetheless, visiting friends and family can be an important and humbling experience, so it’s really worth trying to make it happen if you can.
If you do decide to return home for the summer, here are Study International’s top ‘do’s’ and ‘don’t’s’ to get the most out of your summer.
Schedule time to catch up with childhood friends
Chances are you’ve lost touch with some of your childhood friends. This is understandable since you were having such a busy time abroad, but hanging out with your old friends can really help keep you grounded.
Reconnecting can strengthen your friendship as you are all likely to have matured and have new shared interests.
Even if it’s just for an afternoon, catching up over lunch or a few evening drinks can remind you what life used to be like, bringing you closer to those you spent most of your childhood days with.
Discuss your time abroad with your family
You might feel very different from your family, especially if their lives are very seperate from who you are now.
Telling them about the experiences you’ve had and the people you’ve met will help them adjust to your new way of life.
Remember it can be just as challenging for them to relate to you, as it is for you to understand them, so be patient.
Embrace your culture
Chances are you didn’t get to eat the delicious food or celebrate cultural celebrations they way you do at home throughout your academic year.
Engaging with your home country’s culture can really take you back to your most humble beginnings – after all, these are these traditions you grew up with!
This can help restore your love for your country and remind you of all the wonderful things here that your university city doesn’t have.
You might be met with criticism or disdain when people realise you have been shaped by your study abroad experiences.
People might feel you are rejecting who you truly are or that you think you’re better than them.
If this happens, try not to be defensive. Understand that their lives have not changed the way yours has, and they feel threatened by your new identity.
Through dialogue and time, you will be able to find some common ground and show them you are still part of the community.
Consciously or unconsciously, part of you might think you are above people from home. This is understandable as you have had transformative experiences, both academically and culturally.
Remember that everyone is on their own journey, and while yours might have led you abroad, others are still doing what’s right for them.
Ask questions, stay modest, and try and find common ground with those around you.
Be too hard on yourself
Returning home can be challenging due to people’s academic expectations or perceptions that you’ve rejected your culture.
You might also feel a sense of loss or betrayal for your home if you realise you’ve changed more than you thought.
If this happens, make sure to be kind to yourself and give yourself some mental space to reflect on the experience. Returning home can shape you as much as studying abroad, so don’t be too hard on yourself if you feel overwhelmed or upset.