After having learned so much about the horrors of repatriation, having “Dealing with Post Study Abroad Depression” posted multiple times on my Facebook wall and remembering that I still can’t drive, I quickly began to DREAD my return home. I actually began to mentally prepare myself for my return in February (only five months early). I couldn’t sleep at night because I couldn’t stop thinking about having to come back to Canada! I was constantly harassing my friends with the fact that I was NOT AT ALL OKAY with returning home and I even cried once at one of those lame “35 things you’ll miss about Paris” articles. COME ON, how embarrassing is that? Overall, I knew that my year abroad would come to an end soon and that I would simply have to deal with this – one way or another.
Picture this; my last day in Paris, I’m sitting in the back of a shuttle bus to the airport and listening to a sad song called Paris while staring out the window while it pours rain, watching the city that I’d grow to love so much disappear. Okay, so it wasn’t actually raining, but it just sounds so fitting. I get home and after a few hours of being harassed by my family, I sleep and wait for the excitement to wear off and the sadness to set in. But guess what? It never came! I’ve been home for over a month now and although I would much rather be in Paris, I’ve never once felt sad or depressed at the fact that my year abroad had come to and end. I think it may actually be associated with the fact that I mentally prepared myself so well and took a few preventative steps to cope with this so-called Post Study Abroad Depression.
Here are the steps I took to cope with my return home;
- Prepare in advance
Maybe five months in advance is a bit extreme. Regardless, it’s a good idea to mentally prepare yourself for your return home. Talk about it with your friends and family. Discuss expectations and your feelings towards your return and ask whether or not there are any major changes at home that you need to be prepared for.
- Set goals
You’d actually be surprised by all of the paperwork and miscellaneous tasks you may have waiting for you after a year away from home. For me, my goals involved getting through said paperwork, doing my income tax, getting my drivers license, getting CPR and first aid certified, etc. (yawn). I actually kept pretty busy this past month which took my mind off the whole “welcome back to reality, you’re not abroad anymore” thing.
- Think of the positives
Free food! Or whatever your equivalent may be.
- Plan your next trip
I’ve actually started looking into internships post-graduation, an Asia graduation trip, a possible trip to New York during reading week and weekend trips to Montréal and Quebec City. This has really helped me in coping with my return to the mediocrity of everyday life back in Canada. Knowing that the adventure has not come to an end just yet (cheesy, I know) really eases the mind.
- Stop being a baby
Although it is completely normal and understandable to experience sadness, anxiety and maybe even post-study abroad depression once you have returned home, there are possibly some times when, as my mom would say “you need to stop being a baby.” A little harsh, but effective. Never looking at croissants the same way again and not having a cute Parisian apartment with a view of the Eiffel tower, does not constitute for a reason to be sad. Overall, appreciate the great things that Canada has to offer!
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