Life After Studying Abroad

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Many of my friends studied abroad this fall, and a few of them have mentioned the “culture shock” they have felt after coming back to the United States. I interviewed junior Lauren McAndrews on her feelings after returning from Milan, and what she is experiencing back in the SCU community.

What kind of emotions were you feeling when you came home to the United States?

“I was happy to get home but I was also really sad to leave my host family, so it was very conflicting. I just didn’t say much, like on the drive back from the airport. I just kind of took everything in.”

What did your family say when they first saw you? 

“My family kind of understood. My mom thinks I’m one of the statistics because she has this chart from my program that says all the different emotions I’m supposed to be going through, but that’s kind of even more upsetting because she’s just like ‘Okay, now I know what you’re going to say in two months’ and I’m like mom, just stop it.”

What is it like to come back to the bubble of Santa Clara?

“Overwhelming—really overwhelming—because you’re used to seeing the same few people every single day. Then going from that to seeing hundreds of people every single day here, it’s overwhelming to say hello to everyone at first and try and catch up with everyone and you feel like you’re having the same conversations over and over again. That’s something I’ve found, that I don’t stop to make small talk with as many people as I used to before I left. I’m not exactly sure why. I don’t know, maybe because I feel like I’ve changed but Santa Clara hasn’t. And everyone really talks about the same things still, so that’s definitely part of it.”

Do you stay in touch with non-SCU friends you met abroad?

“Yes, I do. Snapchat is the easiest. But a couple of my other girlfriends I met abroad, we’re actually in a Facebook thread planning for two of them to come for Spring Break. Then I’ve kept in touch with other people mainly through Facebook, just because it is easier and you feel like you can respond when you have the time, rather than a text message where you feel like there’s more pressure.”

Do you talk to them about what you’re feeling?

“Yeah, mainly it’s not too deep of a conversation, compared to other Santa Clara students that went abroad and are now back—I have more meaningful conversations with them—but we do talk about how we really miss Italy and we miss the things that we used to do and it’s just a lot of nostalgia for the experiences we had.”

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