Friday, May 12, 2017

Quick Thoughts: After Study Abroad

The semester is almost over and Spain will soon become a memory for me. I find myself, in these last two weeks, looking ahead to what needs to be done this summer and next year and...
Before I get ahead of myself (which has definitely happened before), I've had to keep in mind one of the most immediate feats for when I return to the States--reverse culture shock.
I'm not so unfamiliar with this experience as I have had to undergo this process every time I went from Hawaii to Cali, and also from Belize to the States. But I know that will play a huge part in how I deal with stress and with the upcoming school year. So here are some tips for those who are facing big transitions after time abroad OR for those who are interested in studying abroad.

1. Take your time with adjusting. Don't try to do it all at once because believe me, there will be more to get used to than you realize. You'll have to not only readjust to American culture, but also to your family and friends.
2. Accept that this experience has changed you. I'm not saying that your core personality or root of self has changed, BUT after living in a different culture, possibly speaking a different language, and other experiences abroad, may have had an effect on how you see the world and how you interpret cultural differences. You may even have changed your routines and priorities upon your return. You may get bored or be put off by the fact that the people you left behind (friends and family) have more or less been doing the same things. You may feel upset or frustrated because your loved ones don't fully understand your experiences and new behaviors. THAT'S PERFECTLY NORMAL. It happens to every traveler.
3. Be patient and gracious with yourself and with your loved ones. Tension and stress happens, but these two things make it way easier for yourself and for others.
4. Set super-short term goals! These are for all my people who may struggle with anxiety or depression under deep stress. One. Thing. At. A. Time. I have already set mini daily goals to keep myself sane and centered, and to also build healthier habits. For example, I noticed I would pick at my fingers every time I got stressed, worried, bored, lazy, etc. So I began disciplining myself to stop. Overcoming that daily (2 days in a row so far lol) has actually made me more productive and forces me to rely on the fact that I'm not in control, and that what will happen will happen.
5. PRAY. Lastly, for my Christians out there, you all know we a Savior, Father, and Friend who knows us and cares about us. Don't forget to pray about everything, even the little things. I know for me, looking to God for guidance, strength, assurance, and peace has taken load after load off of my shoulders. Also it keeps me centered on the hope that is Christ, which trumps any sort earthly goal I may be worried about. He works all things together for the good of those who love Him, so pray :)

"Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble." Matthew 6:31-34

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