Post-Abroad Blues: Are They Real?

by The Cowl Editor on January 17, 2019


Student rides camel through the desert.
In 2017, 39.6 percent of the junior class studied abroad in 25 different countries. Photo courtesy of Providence College News.

Studying abroad is one of the most incredible and enlightening experiences that an undergraduate student can have during their college career. 

The ability to travel to multiple countries and explore different cultures allows one to experience self-growth as well as appreciation and understanding of other cultures.  

However, just like all good things, it must come to an end. For some this can cause what is called the “post-abroad blues,” and they are definitely real. 

While this may seem ridiculous to some, it is a real issue that many students, and others that have lived abroad and returned home, have experienced. 

Returning home after being abroad and traveling for several months is a drastic change and can cause a whirlwind of emotions for many students. 

These emotions can be positive, such as excitement to come home and return to campus, gratefulness for the experience they had, pleasant nostalgia of their time abroad, or just general relief to be home safe and sound. 

On the other hand, some may experience negative emotions such as boredom, isolation, anxiety, and in some more extreme cases, depression. 

Similar to reverse culture shock, students can experience these symptoms on a wide spectrum and some do not even experience them at all. They can be as mild as missing the experiences and life you had abroad and as severe as feeling depressed and overwhelmed with feelings of pointlessness or of not fitting in at home. 

Providence College students are no exception to this issue with students who report both positive and negative transitions home. 

Anne Archard ’20 felt positive during her abroad experience and return home. “I thought that when I’d get home, I would instantly be very sad at the dramatic change from doing and seeing everything to being back in my hometown waiting to go back to school. The truth is, I’ve found myself happier since coming home because of the experiences I was privileged enough to have abroad.”

However there are other returning abroad students, such as Sarah Kerrigan ’20 and Caroline Mallon ’20, who look back on their abroad experience with some sadness and nostalgia. After studying for four months in Dublin, Ireland, Kerrigan reflects, “the saddest part for me is the thought that I’ll never be able to do that again.” 

Similarly, Mallon, who studied in Rome, Italy for her semester abroad, states, “At first it’s really nice to be home and see family and friends but I miss the excitement of wandering around a city filled with such rich history, it is the peak of your life and now I feel like I don’t have many places to explore here.”

While “post-abroad blues” do not affect everyone, it is important to recognize that they can easily affect students and reactions can range from mild to severe. If you are someone you know begins to feel symptoms of the post-abroad blues make sure to take steps such as talking it out with friends or family, picking up a new hobby to keep yourself busy, or setting up an appointment with the Personal Counseling Center. 

Abroad is an amazing experience.However now that the fall abroad students are home, it is important to be grateful for the experience you had and to be excited to be back in Friartown.