One of the best ways to avoid falling into boredom and frustration is to intentionally seek out new adventures. Whether you’re home for a semester, a few years, or indefinitely, creating an Adventure Passport will keep your life exciting and full of adventure. Start by reflecting on what made you feel “alive” while abroad. Was it certain activities? Being with specific people? Learning new things? Speaking in another language?
In the space below, write down everything that you loved doing while abroad.
Now write down all of things you look forward to doing at home, whether for the first or hundredth time. Maybe you can’t wait to revisit a favorite hangout with friends. Or perhaps you’re eager to connect with local Chinese speakers. Or maybe you can’t wait to take a scuba diving or surf lesson?!
What about traveling around California or other states?! Jot it all down below!
The next step is to select 5-10 adventures that you want to have while at home. Make it official by writing them on the next page.
Here are a few tips for making the most of your adventure passport.
1. Set a date for each adventure, and then put it in your calendar. Make these adventures a priority!
2. If you’re going through re-entry with friends, have everyone share the adventures they most want to have while at home. Cheer each other as you complete each one!
3. If you’re crafty, why not create a simple “passport” out of a pocket journal or small notebook. Write each adventure on a different page in the journal. As you complete each one, jot down notes and memories.
4. Once you’ve completed an adventure, “stamp” your Adventure Passport so you can keep track of your experiences.
A simple check mark will do but why not get creative with gold stars, stickers, or a fun stamp?
Identity Challenges You may feel in between 2 “poles” and for months following your return, you might experience a feeling of “cultural identity crisis.” Indeed, you might feel like creating a new identity for yourself. Be patient and take time to reflect upon how you can incorporate all of your cultural identities into your own unique perspective on the world.
For now, take a moment to reflect upon these questions:
● What value, beliefs, and behaviors have I learned from my host country that I want to try to maintain while back in the US?
● In what ways might these values, beliefs, and behaviors conflict with US culture?
● How can I find support for these new values?
Seeing the US and the World in a New Light You have probably changed your views on a number of things since you came back. Many students have a new awareness of politics and the interpretations they get from the media of different countries and cultures. Some people feel either more highly critical of their own country or very grateful for the things that they enjoy in their own country—or both. To sort through your changing perspectives, jot down a few ways in which your views have changed.
Here are a few questions to get you thinking.
1. What new experiences did you have while abroad that shocked or surprised you about the world?
2. How do you feel now about those experiences after returning to the US?
3. Are there certain stereotypes that you have let go of? Kept? Modified?
The Abroad Guide has a great article on how to answer the question, “How was your study abroad experience?” Visit the website for more information, but as a synopsis they suggest:
1. Pick out your adjectives in advance. It sounds a little silly, but the good ol’ thesaurus can be your best friend when trying to answer this question. Your initial reaction is to blurt out the words “amazing!” and “awesome!”, because it was amazing and awesome. But so is pizza and The Avengers, so those adjectives lose their meaning pretty quickly. And because we can all relate to an awesome experience, it doesn’t push the conversation further. Really try and think about your experience and figure out the best and most specific way to describe it. Maybe your study abroad experience was “Humbling”. An answer like that is likely to open the floor to a follow-up question like, “How so?”.Now you can keep going and talk about why studying abroad was so awesome.
2. Have specific stories to tell. You could talk for days on end about studying abroad, so don’t get caught in an incoherent ramble trying to quickly talk about everywhere you went and everything you did, saw, and ate there. Talk about a specific story or memory instead. Have a few in mind and ready to be shared. Think about the best thing you ate, the most adventurous thing you did, and the place so beautiful it actually took your breath away -those are perfect go-to’s. Plus, when you’re really passionate about the story you’re telling, it’ll show, and whoever you’re telling will be just as excited to hear it. There are bonus points if you have photos to accompany your stories!
3. Know your audience. Think about who just asked you that question. Was it your Great Aunt June? (Maybe don’t tell her about that pub crawl in Dublin that got out of control.) Or are you talking to a group of your college friends at a party? (Odds are they’re not in the mood to hear about your self-guided tour of an 18th century estate house in the English countryside.) Your audience will be more interested in hearing about your study abroad experience if you talk to them about something they’re interested in as well.
4. Let your friends and family talk about themselves too. Don’t be a conversation hog! The last thing you want to do is come off all self-absorbed and better-than-you just because you’re fresh off a semester’s worth of worldly experiences. Ask them what’s new in their lives and what they’ve been up to while you were away. Chances are your questions will probably be met with close-ended replies such as “not much” or “the same”, so better yet, ask them about their past travels or future travel plans.
5. Remember to let them know you’re happy to be home (even if you’re not). Everyone reacts to coming home after studying abroad differently. Some people can’t wait to be home, some people dread going home, and most people leave with that bitter-sweet in between feeling. But no matter how you’re feeling when you arrive home, it’s important to remember to let your friends and family know you’re happy to be home and happy to see them again. Because they’re really happy to have you home and see you again.