So you’ve just spent a year abroad — maybe you were taking a course, teaching English, working for an Embassy or simply traveling for leisure. Nonetheless, your contract has ended, your school term is over, your trip has come to an end and you have to leave. So… what’s next? How do you leave a place that has become your ‘home’ away from home? How do you walk away from the new life you’ve built and the friends you’ve made? How do you simply pack up your things and leave?
Having gone through this dilemma several times in life, I can sympathize. It is certainly not easy. I am currently in the process of preparing to move to Germany after having lived in the United Kingdom for the last two semesters, and I can honestly say that it never seems to get any easier. It is inexplicably difficult to leave a place that has become your second home. Not to mention, it can be unbearable to leave behind new friends that have become a second family to you.
Even worse is the idea of starting over and setting roots somewhere new. There is an extreme anxiety associated with heading towards the unknown, especially if you’re leaving behind something familiar. Perhaps above all, the worst thing is returning back to your actual home. In some cases, you may have truly found your place of solace abroad and have forgotten that you had another ‘home’ to return to. Once home, you may feel bored and restless, constantly replaying memories in your mind of the fun times you had abroad and reliving the moments you made. Or perhaps you will feel out-of-place, as though you no longer belong at ‘home’ in that city, doing whatever it is you did before you left. You are a new person now, with a different outlook on life, and a different way of thinking that cannot be explained. The friends you left behind before your journey may not understand the new you — after all, you have just experienced something that not many young people get to experience, and there is no adequate way to put that experience into words. Perhaps you will attempt to share the experience with friends and family, showing and re-showing pictures of the places you have been and the people you have met, all at the risk of sounding overly repetitive. So what exactly can you do to get over your post-travel blues?
I currently find myself wanting to go back to England; to relive the experiences I had or to spend just another week there, but the fact is simple: you have to know when to move on. The best thing to do is to treasure the memories you made and the experiences you had, while keeping an open mind and looking forward to the next big adventure. Do not let that year abroad be the end of a story, but rather a beginning. This is the first step towards a lifetime of travel. Embrace your new desire for travel and turn it into your next big adventure. Start planning your next trip and even better, invite some friends to come along and share that adventure with you. This way, you’ll have people to talk to who will understand the joys (and sorrows) of long-term travel.
Am I asking you to forget the friends you made abroad? Of course not! I do my best to maintain contact with friends abroad through Facebook, WeChat, Whats App, and QQ, but I also know that some things are best enjoyed in the moment. I am going to stop looking back and instead I will look forward to a new year filled with new travels, new friends, and new memories. So as I say ‘adieu, farewell’ to my old home, I know that there are new adventures awaiting me in Germany!