By doing this blog, I’ve had a lot of time to reflect and take many trips down memory lane. Sometimes it is hard not to look back and miss it so much my body aches, but by doing this blog all I feel now is gratitude. Don’t get me wrong, I miss everything about that semester but now I feel like I have an ability to look back at that experience and realized how blessed I truly am.
At the beginning of this blog I talked about how I needed to get out of the “bubble” that was Illinois and now that I have gotten out of it, I can see why sometimes people might want to stay. I often hear, that sometimes you don’t miss things until they’re gone. And for my little hometown of Wheaton, I can say that is definitely true.
It has been over an year since I returned from my study abroad trip. I can say without a doubt that it was the most life-changing months I’ve ever had. But I can also say that it has helped me for the next step in my life. And to whatever that is, I still have no idea but then again I guess that’s what makes it so exciting.
A huge part of our study abroad experience is the people leading it. That is why I wanted to have a professor of Eastern Illinois University talk about their experience supervising 20 college aged girls around Europe.
AJ is a Communication Studies professor and culture enthusiast. Even as an adult not in college anymore, she swears that this trip has changed her life forever, but I’ll let her tell you how exactly she feels.
As I am looking into post-trip depression, it is important to look what is being done about it, more specifically, with how universities are dealing with it. Evan Lohmann is the Study Abroad Coordinator at Eastern Illinois University.
This is his and Eastern Illinois University’s actions when students come back to America. The real question is though, is this enough?
In my last post, I mentioned the fact that for a little bit I will be posting something different than my usual study abroad posts. Well this is part two.
I talked about in my last post a lot about my personal experience of dealing with post-trip depression. Now, it is time to share Amy’s story. Amy is a junior in college and studied abroad in Grantham, England in the spring of 2013.
I will let her tell the rest.
So far in this blog, I have tried to keep more of a lighter more sarcastic tone mostly because that is exactly how my personality is for those who do not know me. However the next couple of posts are going to go in a different direction. There is one particular topic that has greatly affected my life after study abroad. That would be the issue of post-trip depression. Now because this is such a personal thing, I am not trying to say that my experience is what everyone who studied abroad experiences. In fact, it is extremely different for each individual person. But because this is a common theme with studying abroad, I do think it is important to touch on.
Now for someone who doesn’t not understand what post-trip depression exactly is, it is a specific type of depression that happens when a person who has spent a significant time abroad when they come home. There are so many variables when it comes to post-trip depression that it would be impossible to name them all. Simple things like where you stayed, how long you were gone, the people you went with, and many more are just some of the things that could affect it.
Now as I briefly stated before, post-trip depression affects my life. I personally fell into a very hard depression about two months after I returned from my trip. It was one of the hardest things that I have gone through but I am proud to say that it no longer affects my life like it once did. I know that it looks like I am whining about not running around Europe anymore but I know, and those who’ve experienced it, that this was much more than that. Yes of course I missed going to new places and experiencing new cultures, but I was more of an emptiness than anything else. It is something that is hard to explain, as all depression is, and I’m not sure that I can put it into words.
In the words of Robbie Williams “Depression isn’t about, ‘Woe is me, my life is this, that and the other’, it’s like having the worst flu all day that you just can’t kick”. I truly believe that this is how many people feel when they return from their study abroad trip. Which is why I wanted to talk about it to begin with. Talking back with fellow friends who studied abroad, it was surprising to see how much this un-talked about issue affects them in their day-to-day life.
Now I know that everyone deals with depression and specifically post-trip depression differently which is why we need to be generous with our actions. Generous with the idea of patience, love and kindness towards people who are going through this difficult time. As far as those who are going through post-trip depression, speaking as someone who has almost gotten completely out of it, seek out help from others. Because post-trip depression is real, we need to help each other out because if we don’t, who will?
I know when people think about when they hear the words study abroad: an expensive 6 month drinking binge in a place that doesn’t speak English. Those are the words that come out almost every concerned parent when their child says they want to study abroad half-way around the world. And of course, it definitely depends on the person to which the degree of concern that parent should actually have. However, to everyone that shoots down the idea of studying abroad, here a few statistics to make you swallow your pride and admit that studying abroad is beneficiary to your future. And to be more specific, graduating which is the fundamental reason why you are there; to actually study. Looking at these info-graphics, it is clear that students that study abroad have a higher chance of graduating over students who do not. This just goes to show, we actually do study while we are there.
Now to more of the scary part, what about after we graduate? Good news for my fellow study abroad alumni, we’ve got pretty bright futures ahead. This next info-graphic explains this with a bit more detail. Now if getting into the better grad school, getting employed right out of college and annually earning more money sounds like a good deal to you, maybe this so called “expensive 6 month drinking binge in a place that doesn’t speak English” is the choice for you.
I’m not going to lie. One of the reasons why I chose to study abroad in England was for a boy. Granted I decided this when I was 18, so when I actually left it was two years later and I realized that there was more that England offered than the accents. It got me thinking, is that why Europe is such a popular destination to study abroad? In several movies it is clear that Europe is a target place to go to study abroad in. But how much is that true? Where does everyone actually go? There are hundreds of countries in the world so therefore, thousands of study abroad programs. With this info-graphic, it lays out a better pictures of where U.S. students actually go.
Now the time is to ask why. I do sure hope that not everyone’s decision of where to study abroad is influenced by an accent. But hay, I suppose I should thank him, for helping me fall in love with one of the greatest countries of all.