Returning Home from Going Abroad: Nicole’s Reflections

April 5, 2024

Transitioning back to life at home after studying abroad isn’t always a smooth process. It’s a period filled with adjustments, reflections, and a longing for the experiences that shaped us while traveling abroad. Join us as Nicole Powers shares her journey, now one year removed from her life-changing experience in Sevilla, Spain. Her story serves as a testament to the complexities and joys of returning home from going abroad.

Hace un Año….

I like to think pieces of my heart are sprinkled throughout Sevilla. A little with my host family, my professors at school, the sweet lady I’d see at church, and my API coordinators. There’s a bit of me on the rooftop of my host home apartment complex, along the river where we’d picnic, at the bike rack where our group met, in the beautiful plaza, and in Premiere Garden with my friends. 

Memories of Daily Life in Spain

It’s hard to believe there was a time in my life before living in Spain. Not a day passes by without a memory from my journey passing with it. Whether it’s in seeing the framed pictures in my room, going to Spanish classes, or talking to friends from my program. I vividly remember the first few weeks after coming back home — a confusing mix of heartbreak, frustration, sadness, and uncertainty.

returning home from going abroad

Seeking Guidance

A few months into my fall semester, a little over six months from returning from Spain, I found myself in my Spanish professor’s office going over some notes for my class project. She asked if I had any more questions, and I said I had one quick question, but it didn’t have to do with the project. I could feel every emotion coming to the surface as I asked, “How long does it take to adjust back to life after being abroad? I’m having a hard time.”

She expressed total understanding at the difficulty of adjusting to life back home, and how to keep memories of Spain with me. 

The fear and guilt of moving forward after life abroad is real, and I didn’t want to do anything wrong by settling too comfortably back into life here and letting go of my time in Spain. There is no right or wrong in the process, but I was still having a hard time trying to find that balance. 

My professor kindly gave me one of the best pieces of advice, which I continue to carry with me daily. “Just because you’re moving on doesn’t mean you’re letting go.” Something simple, common, yet so profound, and captured so well what I was struggling to realize.

returning home from going abroad

Balancing Act

It’s hard to know how to carry your new country and new home while allowing yourself to continue life back in your original home. I just needed someone to remind me that I can keep Spain near and dear to my heart without missing out on life continuing here. 

I’ve found solace in conversations and reminiscing with friends, putting together videos of life abroad, rereading journals or vlogs of moments as they happened, looking through photos, listening to music, talking to other people, keeping in touch with my host family, and continuing to write and process everything.

returning home from going abroad

Reflections of Gratitude

It’s been a year since moving to Spain, and I’m still trying to reflect and unpack it all. And truthfully, I don’t think I’ll ever fully comprehend everything from that semester. I know I’ll be recognizing and realizing lessons I’ve learned from my time abroad for months and years to come, both life lessons and personal lessons to better understand myself. 

I’m forever grateful for all the people I encountered who made my time abroad exactly as it needed to be. I’m grateful for every “yes” that led to the opportunity to study abroad, and for every “yes” of all the people I came to know and love. To anyone considering going abroad, I can guarantee it will have a lasting impact. It isn’t always easy, but the experience will carry over into every other facet of life.

returning home from going abroad

A Part of Who You Are

For those who have returned from life abroad and are still figuring out how to navigate the next phase of life, you’re not alone. Even a year later, I’m still figuring out what this all looks like, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. 

Your time abroad will always be a part of who you are, and you’ll encounter people in the future who need to hear your story and perspective that only a post-abroad version of you could offer. Embrace every day, the good and the bad, and know that all of these moments continue to shape who you are.

returning home from going abroad

Embrace Your Story

Your study abroad doesn’t end when you get home; the next piece is how you choose to incorporate your experience back here, which looks different for every person. You have not let go and you have not forgotten—you just get to find your own ways to carry your home abroad with you every day. 

When you come back, don’t worry about being the person who continually talks about their experience abroad. You’ll find a lot of us are right there with you, and we can’t wait to hear everything.

Transform Your Life with API

Through the highs and lows, the laughter and tears, Nicole has emerged from her journey abroad with a deeper understanding of herself and the world around her. As you’ve followed her story, perhaps you’ve found echoes of your own study abroad adventures. If you’re ready to embark on a transformative journey like Nicole’s, feel free to explore all our offerings.

Shoutout to Our Alumni!

Lastly, we wanted to give a big thank you to our API Alumni who shared their experiences with us! In sharing your stories, we spread the word about the benefits of studying and interning abroad. Your story may have a positive impact on other students, encouraging them to consider a life-changing experience abroad! 

If you studied or interned abroad with API, and wish to share your memories, experiences, travel tips, and more, please reach out! You can DM us through our Instagram account @apiabroad or email our Director of Alumni, Hannah Olevson, at [email protected]. We look forward to featuring your story!


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