The Challenges Of Coming Home After Studying Abroad

My time on exchange is running out. I feel like it all just started, and I am sure that when I go home it will feel a dream that I had just lived for a short while.

Today I had lunch with a couple of friends here and we were talking about the readjustment process. One of my friends is from the United States and she told that the beginning of exchange was kind of hard for her, so she is curious to see how she will feel when she goes back home. I mean, even the level of speech differs so much from the US to most English-speaking places in Europe… What other challenges will there be when we come home?

Giving Up Your New Habits.

When I first started exchange, I really needed to learn how to have small talks and, in general, to talk more. Back home in Finland, I am one of the most talkative and outgoing people ever, but here in my exchange country of Austria, I noticed that I am quite shy and some have even said that I look reserved. So, little by little, I changed my habits. And now I am enjoying it.

Talking to random people and asking for advice is so much easier now. But what I am afraid of is that when I go back to my home university, I will habitually start to talk to the person in front of me in the cafeteria line. That is the moment when I will be considered a crazy person!

Being A Different Person.

One thing I have learnt while on exchange is to care less about what other people think. And that is like a feature every Finn has build inside of them – to care what others think.

I wouldn’t say I am the most self-confident person now, but I am for certainly a lot more confident since living abroad. Of course, I need to care how others feel. But I feel the more likely other people are to judge an aspect of me, the more prone I am to encourage it. This might be difficult when I return home, as I will be different to Finland’s cultural norms.

Outgrowing Your Old Friends.

I am looking forward to seeing my friends back home. However, when I visited home during our Christmas break, I already noticed some differences. I noticed that not so many of my old friends share the same interest as I do and they are not interested to hear about my adventures abroad. And I fear that nobody understands the new things I want to do with my life.

Getting Back Into The Old Routine.

What most people are afraid of after their exchange, in my opinion, is that they have to go back to their old life, with all their old routines. Same old, same old.

Like them, my life on exchange has been so spontaneous, even though I have been doing quite a lot of studying. I just cannot spontaneously take a bus to another country in Finland as I can do in Central Europe. That kind of makes me sad. The idea of going back home to study full time and work alongside it does not sound like much fun.

Reverse Culture Shock.

Yes, there is a chance of getting very shocked or even feeling depression when you go back home. I am sure I am going to miss my host country and the people here. I am afraid of bursting out crying all of a sudden when I go home and miss my life here. Luckily, it is so easy to keep in touch with people nowadays.

At the end of the day, even though it feels hard and sad to leave, I wouldn’t change a moment of it. And people are so adjustable. I don’t know how I am going to handle the coldness (both the weather and the people), the darkness and my daily life, which is basically running from one place to another. But I have been managing it before. So, it takes time, but eventually the readjustment will be succeeded.

Profile photo of Eva



I am an undergraduate student from Finland. I am studying in University of Tampere, but currently doing my exchange in Austria, in the city called Graz. I am majoring in lifelong learning and education and my-long term goal is to work internationally on a filed of education.

Leave a Reply