The Student News Site of Clemson University

The Tiger

The Tiger

The Tiger

Letters from Abroad: What No One Likes to Talk About

Photo by Kelsey Morgan

No one ever really likes to talk about the hard part of studying abroad. 

Your program will mention culture shock and the different stages, and how it will be more difficult for some than for others. It will reference reverse culture shock, and how hard readjusting to American life will be., But nobody wants to talk about how hard studying abroad is. Nobody wants to hear it, especially when they’re dreaming of life in another country, of freedom like they’ve never had before, and of the chance to book plane tickets to neighboring countries for under $50. 

It’s hard to justify complaining when you’re abroad. 

It’s an amazing opportunity. 

It’s incredible to get to casually eat dinner within sight of the Eiffel Tower twinkling at night, or to spend rainy days looking at priceless art in the Louvre, or to go country hopping on long weekends. It seems like you should have nothing to grumble about, and complaining just makes you look like a spoiled brat. At least, that’s how it can feel. 

No one really likes to talk about how isolating it can feel to be in such a different time zone compared to your friends and family. It’s something that didn’t seem like it would be a big deal to me, but I can’t tell you how many times it’s been 10 a.m. for me and I go to text someone and I realize that it’s 4 a.m. at home and it will be hours before I hear back from anyone. Once school picks up for people back at home, the time change can make things even harder. When I get up, everyone is asleep. When everyone gets up, I’m in class. When I’m out of class, everyone is in class. When everyone is getting out of class, I’m getting ready for bed. 

No one likes to talk about how people get busy, and after a while you start hearing a lot less from your friends, getting fewer and fewer “I miss you” texts. You know it’s not because they don’t miss you anymore, but it doesn’t stop you from thinking about how everyone’s life is moving right along despite the fact that you aren’t there. 

No one likes to talk about how much the weather can affect you. I grew up in the south. It was 80 degrees on Christmas day at home. Here, I can probably count on two hands the number of times I’ve seen the sun in my two months here. 

No one likes to talk about how there are days when you just want to get on a plane and go home. Sometimes you hit a point where it feels like home is so far away, and I don’t mean in terms of distance. I mean that you look at a calendar and the three months you have left feel like they’ll take three years. 

Sometimes you get in a funk, and it’s hard to get out of. 

Obviously, I’m in a bit of one myself. Today I tried to go for a run and get some fresh air and exercise. I was thinking something along the lines of Elle Woods, “Exercise gives you endorphins, endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands.” Problem is about every other person you pass on the street is smoking, and constantly breathing in second hand smoke while running in the cold makes your lungs dry and burn like fire. I think I got more asthma than endorphins. 

To the friends and family of those studying abroad, I can’t ask you this enough. If your loved one abroad is having a hard time, don’t make them feel like they have no right to be sad because they’re in an incredible city. Homesickness is to be expected, but I can tell you that sometimes it’s not just a matter of missing home. 

Yes, life abroad is a bit of a fantasy world. But it would be  unfair to not warn future travelers about the low points of this wonderful world. Sometimes the fantasy wears thin.  I’m not saying you shouldn’t go abroad, because it really is incredible. I just think it’s only fair to warn you that while it can be one of the most rewarding things you will ever do, it can also be one of the hardest. 

I can’t say everyone will experience this; but, if you do, I can promise you aren’t alone. While right now I may not have the solution, maybe I’ll be able to give it to you soon.  

Au revior for now. 


Leave a Comment
Donate to The Tiger

Your donation will support the student journalists of Clemson University . Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Tiger

Comments (0)

All The Tiger Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *