Finishing my year abroad was probably one of the weirdest experiences of my life. Going home at the end of the second semester was very different from going home for Christmas, as this time I knew it was unlikely I would be able to go back to California anytime soon. In the last month I spent in Humboldt, I really learnt how attached I had become to the place and the people I had met and it was very sad to say goodbye to this part of my life.
I found that by the second semester, the year abroad started to feel a lot more real than it did in the first semester, and I began to see my life in Humboldt as less temporary. I think this was one of the biggest lessons I learnt from the exchange, that it wasn’t so much about going to a new and exciting place to be doing new and fun things everyday, but it was about what it is like to live life in a different place and culture. This adaptation to a new lifestyle and exposure to other ways of living was one of the most valuable parts of my experience, and it was strange to say goodbye to that.
The final month in Humboldt was busy. I had a lot of academic work to finish for the semester, I tried to spend more time with the friends I had made before leaving, and on top of everything I had to finalise travel plans and start thinking about the next year by choosing my modules and paying housing deposits. I think this final month, where uni work was carrying on like normal despite everything else that was going on for me, taught me about treating everything, even things that are out of the ordinary as a part of life. I was desperate not to focus too much on the future as I wanted to enjoy and remember the last few weeks abroad, but I also needed to finish organising. By realising that this tension I was living with was okay and didn’t have to be resolved I think I managed to get more out of the end of my year abroad.
Having been back at home for about a month now, it sometimes feels like my year abroad didn’t even happen. I have settled back into British life very easily and I have been very busy with an internship and other events that have been going on almost immediately after getting back (in hindsight, I should have given myself a bit more breathing space to relax after my year out). I think the year abroad experience is still all too recent to fully sort out my thoughts and feelings on it all, but there have been subtle differences in that I feel I am now more confident and I do think the way I see and understand the world has altered slightly, I realise there’s a lot more on offer than what I’ve experienced at home, and there must be even more to learn from travelling to new and different places which I am much more open to doing since living abroad for the year.
I think it will still be a while before I understand exactly what this experience has meant for me, but for now I am very glad I did it and I will continue to look for opportunities to learn new things and be open to living outside of my comfort zone.