So, You’re Home from Exchange…Now What?

You’ve spent the last 6 months to a year having the BEST. TIME. EVER and now you’re home. You’ve gotten the hugs from your family, you’ve finally rid yourself of those clothes you’ve been wearing for hours on the plane, and you’ve sat down to your favourite homemade meal and answered all the calls from your friends who are so happy you’re back! But, inside, you’re lost. You’re home…now what?

I’ll be the first to admit that getting back to that routine you missed so much while you were abroad suddenly feels a little…dull. You hardly notice it in the first couple weeks when you arrive home, because your days are filled to the brim with catching up with friends and the gossip, driving your car again around all your favourite haunts, finding a job, getting enrolled for the next semester of Uni etc. You honestly find yourself thinking, ‘how the hell did I survive so long without all this?!?!’

The first two weeks fly by, and one day, while you’re busily texting your bestie you found overseas, she writes: “How has it already been two weeks since you left?!”

And then it hits you. Your massively incredible experience – your life changing experience – is over, and each day that ticks past is another day further away from your friends, your exchange university, your memories.

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That all sounds a little bleak, but it’s not all bad, I promise!

Here are some little notes and tips to keep your ties with both home and abroad, and to make sure you keep both parts of your life special and connected:

  • Technology – I cannot praise the technology gods highly enough! Whatsapp, iMessage, Facebook, Facetime, Skype…these are your new best friends, treasure them, use them at least every two days so on those days when your heart feels like it’s going to break from missing your friends, you can quickly pop them a message and set up a video movie night (for one of you it’ll probably be morning, but whatever, turn the lights off, close the curtains, get comfy! More on time zones in a minute…) Don’t underestimate how reassuring it is that even though you’re thousands of kilometres away, you can still catch up and laugh with friends overseas. It’ll make the whole ‘I miss them more than I ever thought I could’ feeling a little easier.
  • Time zones – what rats. I hate time zones; they really do impact on the communication you can have with those overseas. When you’re going to bed, they’re just waking up and are probably scurrying around like everyone does in the morning trying to get things done. It’s not easy to coordinate, but eventually you’ll find a rhythm, and kind of know what everyone’s up to and if they’re free to chat.
  • Send each other things! On my birthday I was so surprised (it tugged on my little heart strings) to open the mail and find five beautiful cards from my British flatmates, as well as an indescribably thoughtful video for my 21st. It just reminds you that, yes, even though you’re far away now, they still love you and miss you and want to share your special day. But don’t wait for birthdays to send things across the world – my friend and I made a bet for the Olympics, and whoever lost (me) had to send a surprise to the other. I sent him some toy gold medals for that Olympic theme, as well as Tim Tams and Caramello Koalas. It’s the little things…
  • Send each other things (electronically) – nothing is so easy, nor showcases exactly how well you know one another, than tagging each other in videos and memes on Facebook, or sending through a new song or YouTube video for them to watch. It helps you guys find new things to have in common, to talk about, to experience together even though you’re far apart. And don’t be afraid to double text or tag them in 50 things a day, either 😉

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^ Get that snapchat streak as high as you can, cuties! (notice the whole, nighttime daytime dilemma?)

I know first hand that nothing is as good as seeing them face-to-face and actually being with your friends, but the reality is that travelling overseas to see them for that movie you both wanted to watch is a complete fairy tale. And you will feel your chest tighten as you think of things you all could be doing together, your eyes will water and sting a little each time you flick through your photos and memories (and you’ll be doing that a lot. Hello, study procrastination!) And when your friends all pop back to uni after their summer, and all get to be together again while you don’t…well, it just sucks. You’ll think that you’re fine and that you’ve been able to manage the distance, but this will really hit you, and yes, you’ll probably cry.

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But it’ll be okay, because your bestie will send a message through saying, “I miss you I miss you I miss you” and you’ll realise that just because they’re there and you’re here doesn’t mean you’re forgotten. It just means you all have to start saving so you can be together again one day…

xx

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