Maggie Cusack with acquired friends during her study abroad in Ireland.

Maggie Cusack with acquired friends during her study abroad in Ireland.


The good thing about home is that it never changes. You can leave for a day, week, or month and it would still be the same. The drapes in the house may have changed but the people often have not. That's why we love home so much, right? It's the memories and the comfort of our pasts.

The problem about coming home isn't that it's changed; it's that we have changed. This change can either be welcomed with open arms or it can be met with resistance. When I came home from Ireland five years ago, I was met with both. Living abroad is like a very long trip. People want to hear everything. Suddenly your life looks so exciting in comparison to theirs. And in a way it makes you feel more exciting. However, the novelty of being home fades, and suddenly you start comparing your life here to your life there. P.S. your life there always wins.


Here's the five reasons it's so hard to settle back into your normal routine once you have lived somewhere else.

1.) You found yourself.

For 22 years of my life, I lived in a forty-five minute radius of where I was born. I traveled home once a week for work. I could call my parents at any time and they would help me. Suddenly, I lived an eight hour plane away. That distance forced me to realize who I was. I had to problem solve by myself. I was responsible for everything having to do with me. I joined clubs my friends at home would have thought were lame. I listened to music that they would have hated. I dated men they would have talked me out of dating. And most of these "finding me moments" had to do with the friends I met there.

2.) The friends you meet abroad are just different.

Think about your best friend. How long did that friendship take to build? Probably years right? Your friendships abroad take half the time if not less to create and flourish. These are the people you can cry to about missing your family. They force you to try new things. They convince you to put off that paper because when will you ever be able to listen to Irish music live in an Irish pub ever again in your life (probably tomorrow, to be honest). The truth is these friendships are stronger because you are going through this new life together. When you build these memories, how are you not going to compare your great travel friends to your boring home friends?

3.) No one in your home life understands your experiences.

The truth is no one understands your experiences because you experienced them. But the slack we might give our travel friends is not given for our home friends. How dare they not understand why I slept on an Italian airport floor! How dare they think I partied too hard because I stayed out until 6 am one night! They weren't there so they will never understand the rush you felt in that moment and why it is so important to you.

4.) Your priorities are different.

At an age where everyone is getting married or having babies, you just can't imagine doing either of those things. When I left for Ireland, I had a plan: graduate, get married and have kids.
Then I studied abroad. Suddenly my priorities became: travel, work, travel, work. Like a bride who would do anything for her perfect dress, I would (and still will) do anything for that perfect trip. However, while people understand the bride aspect of it, they are less likely to understand the travel part of it.

5.) Your "comfort zone" aka home is smothering.

Yes, you love your family and friends, but, do they have to be around all the time? You just want a moment to collect your thoughts something you used to be able to do abroad. You miss that freedom that ability to go where you want when you want without explanation. You suddenly feel like a bug in a glass container, a cute bug, but a bug nonetheless. You start to get stir crazy and really miss your other home.

I think as a culture we don't really talk about what happens after you come home from another country. I truly believe that's why we miss it so much. I don't really have any answers about how to make you miss it less or how to make your friends and family understand. All I can say is that I understand it and you are not alone.

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