(photo by: notadamandsteve.com)
Late October means the semester’s halfway over and the start of the holiday season. For study abroad students this is a bitter sweet time with a big decision that needs to be made: Do I go home for the holidays or stay abroad?
At this point in the study abroad experience, you’re just getting into the groove of things. You’re familiar with the host city; more comfortable taking the metro; know how to find your classes at the host university; and are picking up more cultural and linguistic nuances. But it’s also a time when you’re longing for familiarity and loved ones. The decision to go home for the holidays is a tough one that is really going to depend upon the student’s personality, the experience they’re having and the length of the program. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of going home for the holidays when you’re studying abroad.
(Who doesn’t want to see their loved ones for the holidays?www.sheknows.com)
Going home when your study abroad is 1 semester
Pros: After all the newness that you’ve adapted to over the past month, it’s great to see a familiar face. Reconnecting with loved ones is a great way to curb homesickness. It’s also a great way to celebrate American holidays- you won’t be celebrating them in France so this is your only chance.
Cons: As France doesn’t have the same holidays as the USA, your college breaks will be different. No Thanksgiving means no November break to go home and visit family. If you go home in December in time for Christmas, you’ll miss experiencing the host country’s winter holidays which means you’ll be missing out on some great memories.
(This is the only way you’ll get Pumpkin Pie abroad. theguavaliciouslife.com)
Going home when your study abroad is 2 semesters or more
Pros: Reconnecting with your native culture and loved ones is a great way to curb homesickness and rejuvenate your spirits. It’s also a great way to celebrate American holidays- you won’t be celebrating them in France so this is your only chance.
Cons: If you’re having a difficult time abroad or find that your homesickness is stronger than you thought it would be, it can be tough to return to the host country after going home for the holidays. I know that had I returned home for Christmas after my 1st semester in Paris, I wouldn’t have wanted to come back. Staying in Paris and having my dad come see me was a great way to discover how the French celebrate Christmas and New Years. My staying in the host country for the holidays was a way to bring me closer to France. I recommend every student who’s studying abroad for 2 semesters or more to evaluate your experience. If you’re having an overall positive time abroad -picking up the language, learning the ins and outs of the culture, thinking of the host city as your home- than I think you’re ok to come back home for the holidays. If you’re having a bit of a tougher time, ask a loved one(s) to come to you. If they’re not able to visit you, try taking a trip out of the host city or country to give you a break. If a trip isn’t do-able, try getting an invite to a holiday event from a fellow program go-er, classmate, your host family or even program director.
(One way to celebrate the holidays- travel! www.hngn.com)
As the semester starts winding down you’ll have to think about rédactions and finals but you also need to think about your holiday plans. Don’t think about what your family wants- think about the decision that is best for you based upon your current experience and study abroad length. It’s never too early to make holiday plans so start today!