You’ve just had the most incredible experience studying abroad with Abbey Road Programs. You’ve said your goodbyes to your new friends, host family, classmates, and teachers. You have integrated into a new culture and learned more about yourself than you might have imagined. You have dined, explored, danced, hiked, and lived. So now that you’ve returned home from one of the best high school summer programs in Europe, what do you do now?
For many students, coming home can be unexpectedly difficult. You may experience a sort of reverse culture shock—after spending several months abroad, it might seem unusual that Americans don’t greet one another with two kisses on the cheek. You might be overwhelmed by the sheer quantity and variety of foods in your local supermarket. You might even find yourself using phrases in the new language you learned, perhaps confusing your parents and friends. While this initial shock eventually will fade, each of those experiences and encounters will ultimately allow you to realize the best of both worlds—what you loved about your host country and what you love about your home country. You will now be lucky enough to call two special places home, places that are probably vastly different. Try to embrace the uniqueness of those two worlds, and also cherish the similarities. Recognize that so many facets of the human experience–laughter, music, community, tradition—are alike throughout the globe.
For many of you, the natural step after returning home from one of Abbey Road’s life-changing programs is college. This is the perfect opportunity to continue your journey of intellectual curiosity. Now is the chance to dive deeper into the subjects that have sparked your interest abroad. Were you struck by the stunning architecture of La Sagrada Familia? At your college or university, you can read poetry in Spanish praising the structure, or research the cultural history of its construction. Did you learn Italian through your adventures? Join the Italian Club at your school to keep your skills sharp while making new friends, or join in on the choir’s production of a famous opera. There are countless ways to keep your passion for your host country alive long after you’ve said your final goodbyes.
Having attended an Abbey Road study abroad program will prepare you well for the pre-college jitters you may be experiencing. You have already embarked on a journey to a foreign country where you might not have known anyone else or even the language for that matter. You were able to make friends, navigate the city’s public transportation system, study in a foreign language, communicate and bond with a host family, explore the world’s wonders and likely explore a large part of yourself. Having accomplished all of that, you will be ready to take on the new foreign land of college. You will be not only willing, but also eager to step out of your comfort zone and learn about a new place, new people, and new intellectual pursuits. You will have strong friendships with your peers from Abbey Road to carry you through any troubles, and you will have an adventurous new outlook to help you reach your full potential in the “real world.” Soak up this next adventure, because just like your summer program went by way too fast, the next four years are sure to fly by!