How I really feel after Study Abroad


Pictured: looking out over Paris city as the sun set on the perfect day that is November 8, 2016.
A moment in which I felt infinite. 
 

"How was it?"
"Was it amazing?"

These are just a few of the questions I receive when I inadvertently run into an acquaintance while I'm running errands around town; an act that I've been doing little of in order to avoid these very questions. Don't get me wrong, I'm not cynical and I am thankful for a community of people that know and care about me. What I currently am though is exhausted.

1. Exhausted
I'm exhausted on all levels. It's a type of exhaustion that runs deep down to my core and seems to be affecting all areas of my life these days. This exhaustion stems from a very specific place, one I'm sure almost all study abroad students have experienced as they return from their life changing journey overseas. I'm exhausted because I have this constant feeling that I am not in the right place. Notice my specific wording. I avoided saying I feel like I'm in the wrong place, because things don't necessarily feel wrong- they just don't feel right anymore.

My career, my passions, my day to day lifestyle, my hopes for my life, my goals, my future- it all was progressing. Yet now, upon arrival back in a town that I swear feels exponentially smaller than when I initially left, that progression is halted. I could go on about the factors contributing to this: the lack of jobs offered in my industry locally, the lack of inspiration, the lack of culture, etc., but the preeminent concept I keep coming back to is this sense of inability to move forward; a concept that when left long enough unattended makes one feel he or she is actually digressing.

2. Realistic 
I know that sounds quite grim but what I've realized is this is all just a feeling. And this feeling is quite universal among people who have a life-altering experience. Although feelings in my book will always be justifiable, feelings are not always truth. Often times anything but.

So here I am. Sitting in my room finally writing. An act so simple, yet so hard the last few weeks. An act I've been avoiding at all costs because if I write it down, I speak it into existence. I speak into existence my insecurities, my fears, but the most crippling of all, I speak into existence that my time abroad is over. That simple statement is so hard for me to say, to write, or to even read.

3. Inspired
But how beautiful are these feelings? How beautiful is it that I've experienced something that inspired me and enlivened my passions so deeply? How beautiful is it that I fell in love with a place, the people, and my life there? How beautiful it is to miss something so deeply? And how beautiful is it to still want these things for my life; to still believe wholeheartedly that this was not just an experience but that my life can actually be this full. I long for more, because I had it but also because I know I can still have it.

That is why this exhaustion, this frustration makes me want to fight even more.
It makes me want to fight for the career that I want, to fight for constant inspiration, to fight for ruthless, loyal, life-giving relationships; to fight for laughter, to fight for moments in which I think "I will always remember this".


For all my friends and for anyone coming back from study abroad: just keep going.

You got this. 

Ain't life beautiful?


All my love,
xoxo,
Courtney

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