Lessons From my First Week of Senior Year

 

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Hofstra students are almost one full month into the semester. So much has happened over the last few weeks that I feel as if I have been in this month for three years. It is crazy to me that I experienced my first day of senior year just a few weeks ago and the things I learned in the week following still are deeply imprinted in my brain.

Text that person

The second day of school I tweeted, “Honestly, text that person for two hours even though you were supposed to do homework. You might find something useful and intriguing.” I am not saying to repeatedly ignore homework, but if you want to have a conversation, have it. Whether it be your best friend, a new friend or a relationship you’re trying to build, the people surrounding you have so much to offer and can help you realize things you may not have thought about while struggling over that math homework.

Love or die

My professor presented us a quote from poet W.H. Auden: “We must love one another or die.” While these words alone have infinite meanings in different contexts, my professor explained that research has pointed to love being a factor in a longer life. Love is incorporated into Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. People need love to feel a sense of belonging, and they need to give love to have a sense of purpose. Love drives passion in the world, and without it, there is no motivation to evolve into our best selves. What I take from this is to show compassion, be kind and be there for those around you, and they should reciprocate. Without love, if we are not physically dead, we might as well be emotionally gone. Love makes the world go around; don’t be the one to stop it.

“You never know when you are creating a memory, so make it a good one.”

Make those memories

During class, my professor also told us her favorite quote: “You never know when you are creating a memory, so make it a good one.”  I definitely did not learn this, because I am already a firm believer in this philosophy. However, my professor saying this during the first week of senior year really hit close to home. It was a reminder to live life to the fullest and make the most out of every moment given, because at the end of it all, I do not want to look back and be disappointed.

Although I have been in college for three full years, I feel that the most memorable knowledge I have acquired is about life in general. I welcome any lessons my last year of undergraduate schooling has in store with open arms.

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Tips on Transitioning to Your Home Institution Post-Study Abroad

Jumping on a plane to a new country with no friends or family? No problem. Returning home to a summer job the first day I am back? Sure. Going back to school to my loving friends and campus activities? Who knew it would be so hard.

I am one who can easily swallow my emotions and not let myself be too affected by the unknown. I think it took me a few hours to feel comfortable in Fiji and a matter of days to feel at home in Australia. However, returning to my old life at Hofstra University is a whole different story. For me, culture shock was not a huge problem, but reverse culture shock—difficulty to readjusting to one’s home environment after a period of time away—is highly apparent.

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In hopes of helping someone else who may be in denial that this is a thing like I was, or who is going through something similar, I have compiled a few coping tips from myself and others who have studied abroad:

Get into a routine

I cannot stress this enough: do not sit around and wait to feel better. Patterns help one feel a sense of belonging and purpose. Whether it be a new job or a weekly lunch date with your friend, some sort of schedule can help ease you back into your old life.

Trust your friendships

Shannon Kelly, a Hofstra University alumna, says that so much can change over just one semester, but your friends will be there for you when you get back. “It will take a bit of time to settle back in, but remember that if they’re a good friend, they’ll be happy you’ve grown and they’ll be patient and supportive of you as you adjust to being back.”

Plan a trip

Do you still have the desire for adventure? Planning a small trip by yourself or with friends is the perfect way to feed your need to travel. Life is all about making memories!

Share your experience

Nicole from Minnesota State University says, “Volunteer or work in your study abroad office to get connected to interested students and you can help someone else go abroad!” You may not be able to study abroad again, but helping other students realize their dreams may help you feel accomplished and more connected to your abroad journey. Plus, you have an all-access pass to never stop talking about your memories.

Blog

I may be biased, but blogging relieves much stress from my mind and helps me stay positive about life in general. You may not be in your foreign country anymore, but there are oodles of post-experience topics about which to write.

Stay in touch

Brian from St. John Fisher College says it is important to reflect on your experience. “Keep in touch with your friends you made abroad. Print out pictures of your memories or do something to your dorm that reminds you of studying abroad.” Staying close with your study abroad friends is especially useful because they may understand what you are going through. Plus, reminding yourself of your adventures allows you to be more thankful they even happened.

Find a forum

There are many blogs and forums dedicated to people facing similar issues. Try searching the web for some chat forums to ease your post-trip pain.

Affirmations

One of my favorite things to do is write down what I am thankful for or at least write down happy thoughts. Pick a photo once a week from your abroad journey and write about a time associated with that photo. On the other hand, you can simply write positive remarks about your memories. You will be smiling in no time!

Post-trip anxiety is normal. Don’t feel discouraged about being unhappy about your return to pre-abroad life; take it as a learning experience. Hopefully you find use out of some of these tips and can work yourself back into your routine!

Thoughts on an Unexpected Summer

Summer 2017 turned out differently than I expected. When I was in Australia, I was set on making a bucket list filled with adventures like camping and visiting waterfalls. I thought I would be posting my videos and blogging about my awesome recent trips. However, by the time I got back to New Jersey, I was worn out. I just wanted to sit on the beach, and that’s exactly what I did.

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A view from my summer

This summer has opened my eyes to a few things:

Schedules

I am notorious for being a diehard supporter of my paper planner in which I write everything. In fact, a new planner was one of my first purchases I made in America. It was the end of June and also the end of my planner, and I knew my life was over as soon as the calendar ended. However, when I bought my new pretty planner, I did not use it and reverted back into my old high school days of just memorizing everything in my head.  It’s summer, so of course I don’t have many obligations, but not using my planner really helped me feel relaxed. I wasn’t concerned about when I was doing what, yet my time was always filled with family and friends. I realized it is okay to not have everything planned to the tee. However, as the school year approaches, I will return to my highly organized days, but with a higher appreciation for those numbered boxes without anything scribbled in them.

Relationships

Another huge reason I didn’t blog as much as I wanted to is because I went through a huge break-up, which no one would realize because I don’t talk about that much on here. Earlier in the year, I said I went through heartbreak; little did I know that was only an iota of the abundance of pain I felt in my heart this summer. However, it is something that everyone needs to experience and I am glad I did. I solidified my thoughts that if it is meant to be it will be, and if you think someone is bad for you, you should go with your gut feeling. Trusting my instincts is a huge thing I struggle with, but I know I am now going to place higher value on my own opinion.

Where I want to be

As I have said before, I have really been all over the place this past year, physically and mentally. When I started college, I desired to move to the Big Apple as soon as I could. It’s not that I don’t want the city life any longer, but I am so happy with my home in New Jersey with my family and friends. I love where I live because I can commute to Philadelphia and NYC in less than an hour and a half, and return to the beautiful shore where all my memories are. I won’t stay here forever, and maybe I will leave and come back. I am in no rush to make any huge location changes; unless it is to take another trip around the world, of course.

Life is insanely beautiful. Sometimes it is unfair, and sometimes it seems to be playing on your side. Regardless, everything that happens is a lesson and it is up to the receiver to decide what to do with the newfound knowledge.

Whitmanythought 1: Why is summer over?

Whitmanythought 2: Get motivated for the school year!