Sunday, 6 February 2011

The Difficulties of Returning from Study Abroad...

I spent the last year living and studying in the beautiful and picturesque city of Heidelberg, Germany. I made some amazing friends from around the world, studied topics I had only dreamed about while in Leeds, and managed to keep up the most active, interesting and varied social life that I have ever had, INCLUDING freshers! My grades rocketed, which is probably down to the dual force of enjoyment and the fact that as a native English speaker, I had a decided advantage in my English and American Literature classes.
Even before I came back to Leeds I was worried about the return to normality, and to the grey and dreary setting of the Roger Stevens. My classes went from small and lively two-hour in depth sessions, to large lectures and seminars which sometimes felt a little flat. Just as discussions began to flow, the time was up, and we had to move on. Changing back to a different system of teaching and learning when you are entering your final year is incredibly stressful, especially when the system in your host university suits you so well, and produces better results in terms of grades. Fortunately, I managed to re-adjust to the Leeds system of teaching (just in time for the January exams)and my classes for the coming term seem just as interesting as those I took in Heidelberg.
In addition to the difficulties of readjusting to the way of work in Leeds, I also had to contend with the added difficulty of a total and utter lack of friends. Well, almost. As I study English, rather than a language, a year abroad is optional, which meant that most of my close friends, and the people who I would choose to share a house with upon my return, had already graduated and, for the most part, moved to London. Of course I have some old friends still in Leeds, and some great new ones I met in Germany who were also on Study Abroad, but the depletion in the ranks of my friends was probably about 90%, and led to a few initial months of horrible lonliness, not to mention the anxiety over moving into a house with people that I had never met before!
On the other hand, the fact that I was now virtually a friendless loner meant that I had to put myself out there again and try to meet some great new people, which I did manage to do, once I had decided that my moping was beginning to irritate the few remaining friends I had. I also managed to find a job, which has improved the situation further, while providing the means for a planned post-graduation trip to see as many of my Study Abroad friends as I can afford!

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