First of all, the obvious things: My appearance changed. I lost weight, my hair is lighter and longer and I looked more tanned in the end. The latter vanished pretty quickly and, unfortunately, it seems like the weight thing is changing back, too. So I guess, changes in appearance don’t count 😀
What does count though, is the change in my attitude, the way I perceive myself, and the way others perceive me.
First of all, as it is common for exchange students, I am a lot more self-confident, outgoing and mature. It is so much easier for me now to find friends and to talk to people I don’t know. I am also so much better at making my own decisions and taking responsibility for those decisions. However, I also rediscovered the little child in myself. Before I went to study abroad, I took myself, my studies and my career way too serious. Now I think, traveling and experiencing new things is not a waste of time but an enrichment to my curriculum and I am not striving for perfection anymore, since I saw so many people succeeding in life in their very own, non-perfect way. (This doesn’t mean, I don’t care about my studies anymore. I do care. I want to get into a good grad school, but life doesn’t revolve around grades).
How did my stay change what people see in me? The answer is: a lot and not everything is obvious. First and foremost, I found a lot of new friends in the whole wide world. This makes me use social media more intensely and also it makes me be more picky about other friends and acquaintances. During my stay, I grew way closer with the people around me than I would ever with a lot of my friends in my hometown or from my high school. So, I lost touch to a lot of them and I also my interests changed and we don’t have a lot in common anymore. Also, I tend to be more honest and direct, which means I’m not pretending to like people and I’m not staying in touch with people that are not important to me anymore.
The changes are not always positive of course. My excessive use of social media is annoying to most of the people around me. I get it! But also, I miss my people on the other side of the planet. And yes, I’m always dreaming about visiting my friends and traveling new places. Traveling became a new and important personal interest for me. Not everyone can and will understand. Another aspect that is closely connected to the growing apart from friends is the fact that life has changed a lot for me and it didn’t change for the people around me. A lot of my old friends wouldn’t even notice the changes and that made me angry and it accelerated the growing apart. But in the end, the true friends stayed 🙂
How did you change after staying abroad? Did you experience a reverse culture shock?