Opinion: Studying Abroad Affects Relationships

Time really does fly by. How is it already December? How am I already over halfway through with my college career? No, I’m not going to delve into this spiral of depression and the amount of panic I feel for not knowing what I want to do after I graduate college. I’m going to focus on the fact that my friends who have been living their lives to the fullest all around the world, in France, Spain and the Galapagos, are coming back!

It’s amazing to think that a little over 6 months ago, I was hugging some of my best friends goodbye before summer break and their semester abroad in some of the most interesting countries in the world. I’ve been living vicariously through them and their constant Facebook posts for the past couple of months, and in a month, they’re going to be walking around campus with me. As excited as I am to be reunited with them, there are some things that worry me.

1. Are they going to be satisfied with the “normal” life?
As someone who studied abroad for a month and still talks about how amazing it was, I know hearing about it gets tiring and obnoxious for those who haven’t been or are not going abroad. For me, it’s not even the fact that they’re going to talk about their experiences, but rather that they won’t be satisfied with their lives back on campus after having mind-blowing adventures around the world. While Boston College has a huge place in my heart, I can’t take weekend trips to Barcelona or Florence. Life is no longer as exotic.
2. Changed friendship dynamics
Maybe it’s because it has been so long since I’ve seen my friends, maybe it’s because I haven’t religiously kept up with some of my friends who are abroad or maybe it’s because we’ve all made new friends or become closer to people we never would’ve imagined. Whatever the case, friendships have shifted and when our friends abroad come back, it’s going to be different. I’m not saying our friendships are doomed for failure, but while our friends have been abroad some of us here have gotten closer to each other. Additionally, our friends abroad have made close friends of their own.

While we may reunite and interact in the same ways we did before they left, we must remember that we’re not the same people we were 6 months ago. Furthermore, for those of us who are juniors, there are a lot of divides, due to our living situations, with some of us living off-campus and others on-campus. It takes a lot of effort to consistently catch up and hang out with my best friends who live just a block down from me, so it’s definitely going to require more effort to see those who live a Comm. Ave bus ride away.

3. Winding down from the “Carpe Diem” mentality
I refuse to use the four-letter acronym that starts with a “Y” and ends with an “O.” However, seeing the number of Facebook study abroad photo albums using that acronym, hearing my friends’ abroad stories and going abroad for a month myself leads me to believe that this is the mentality of those abroad. I don’t know what it is, but being away from home in a different country makes us feel like we face absolutely no consequences, that we’re excused from everything we do and that we’re invincible. After three or so months of having this kind of mentality, how challenging is it going to be to wind back down to the “same old, same old”?

Now, don’t get me wrong, my excitement to see my friends' wonderful faces again trumps the nervousness I feel. Whether they want to come back or not, I’m beyond stoked to be able to walk across the quad, take a nap in Gasson or to suffer in O’Neill library with them. For those of you abroad who are reading this, I hope you live your last few weeks wherever you are to the fullest. I’ll be waiting in front of main gate, ready to jump into your arms and welcome you back to Eagle territory!