How studying abroad made me disenchanted with my American life

A year has past since left for my four month study abroad stay in Viterbo, Italy. To put into words how much those four months changed my life, I simply could not do it justice.

It was something that I had always dreamed of doing; venturing out into an unknown world, meeting and living with people I had never known. I had craved this experience ever since I can remember.

Before leaving to study abroad, my college (California State University, Chico) , now my alma mater, held a mandatory Saturday morning workshop for everyone who was going abroad. In these sessions, they explained how we might go through culture shock; the ups and downs of living and studying in a foreign country.  What they did not explain, is how odd it would to live back in the U.S. after returning from abroad.

When I say odd, I don’t just mean how odd it might be to speak only English or to use American dollars every day, I mean how soul crushing it can be to want to be somewhere else.

This feeling of wanting to get up and go has pegged me since I have returned.

I have always felt the need to explore, but this feeling is different. This feeling leaves me upset, annoyed and I act out in ways which can be damaging to my loved ones. It is difficult for me to try to tell my boyfriend or my mom why I am so upset or depressed when I get into this mood because I don’t want them to feel that I don’t want to be there with them. I do want to be there, but I also want to be half way across the world.

Trying to get through this feeling and realizing that I can be happy with my American life, has been tough, more tough than  I thought it would be. Studying abroad has messed up my heart and my head, but would I trade the experience? Hell no.

I wouldn’t trade the opportunity of eating a gyro in Athens, with the Acropolis in my sights for anything. I wouldn’t trade hiking up Mt. Vesuvius, panting alongside some of the best friends I have ever had the chance to know, for anything.

I know that I cannot return to the blissfulness I felt in Viterbo, but I am working hard to find a different kind of bliss here.


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