Coming back from a year abroad? Here’s a few ways to make settling back in easier
Did I mention I did a year abroad?
There’s no weirder feeling than coming back to the old stomping ground after a year abroad.
For a year, you explored some of the world’s most obscure places, immersed yourself in quirky new cultures, and got far too used to hearing people say “oh my god – you’re English?!” and handing you drinks.
But now you’re back, and the sounds of French church-bells have been abruptly replaced by belters on their way back from a night-out, the gondolas of Venice by a 2006 Ford Fiesta hurtling down Derby Road thirty miles above the speed limit, and the crisp air of the Siberian tundra by a kebab meat-infused smog. You expected this though – you’ve missed it.
That doesn’t mean that readjusting is going to be easy, however. A lot has changed, and you might find yourself feeling a little out of place. Lucky for you, this guide will show you how to make this transition feel a little easier:
Figure out admin
Bad news: student services didn’t improve while you were away.
It’s likely that if you were at a university abroad, the admin services were different, and probably much better. But sooner or later, you’re going to have to navigate MyNottingham again, and it’s going to suck.
Thankfully, the UoN website has tons of informational videos on how to register, select modules, and pay outstanding charges. Your school should also have a member of the student services team specific to its study abroad programme, so just reach out to them (or anyone else on the study abroad team) for guidance. Or, worst case scenario, just call IT support because they’re the only number still taking calls.
Talk to old friends, and reach out to new people
90% of your anxiety about coming back is probably because all of your friends have graduated.
You’re a lone wolf now, except for your five housemates and also the thirty people you know who are doing a panic masters. Still, it’s a bit overwhelming to think about how much has changed while you’ve been away.
If you’re feeling lonely, you can always reach out to old mates just to chat, or drop a text to someone you met once in first year and see if they want to grab a drink. If the whole houseparty phase of lockdown taught us anything, it’s that you can endure an hour long conversation with almost anyone. There’s also no shame in forcing your housemates to introduce you to people, who you can then dazzle with a seventy-five minute monologue about how much better the d&b scene is in Russia. That’ll get ‘em.
Try to re-adapt to the environment
Physically being back in Nottingham after so long can be a bit strange.
Everything still looks the same, but it doesn’t feel like it. Your mates from second year haven’t lived in the house you’re about to impulsively knock on the door of for over a year now, and you haven’t seen a single face you recognise despite deliberately walking around Sainsbury’s three times a day. As hard as it is to acknowledge, things have changed, so you’re going to have to see the city less as a reminder of the past and more as a hub of opportunity for the future.
Go for walks around campus and the city centre to reacclimatise, and then find new places to make your own. You might feel like you’ve been gone for a decade, but that just means you have an opportunity to completely redefine your Notts experience.
Don’t be afraid to reach out for mental health support
Not everyone is going to find it easy to readjust, and it’s perfectly normal to struggle with the heaviness of the change. If you need professional support, reach out to the university’s mental health services, or contact nightline by phone, email or messenger.
Don’t forget how much you’ve grown
Most importantly, don’t let all this change make you forget everything you’ve learnt over the past year.
This year might be difficult, but that’s the best time to put your experience into practice. You’ve worked hard, immersed yourself in challenging environments, and found new ways to overcome adversity – use that to your advantage.
This year is a clean slate, you’re basically a fresher with more debt and a further-progressed existential crisis, so act like one. Be optimistic and chase every opportunity, but do it with the understanding you’ve gained over the past three years.