Seven States Of Mind
Learn to deal with some common travel emotions
by Aabha Rathee
Dealing with travel is like dealing with grief—you cope with it in stages. David Younger, University of Notre Dame study abroad assistant director, calls it a “W-curve”: Excited one minute and freaking out the next, your highs and lows come in quick succession. So before you climb on board that emotional rollercoaster, familiarize yourself with seven common travel emotions and how to deal with them.
You devour maps in anticipation, spend half your waking hours on Google Street View and park yourself on your study abroad program’s Facebook page. You wonder: Three suitcases or two? Heels or walking shoes?
Don’t panic: Ask questions, but try to save up some curiosity—a few harmless surprises never hurt, says Caitlin Semo, a New York University sophomore who took a nine-month-long study abroad trip to Florence, Italy last September.
You land and tell yourself you can never have enough of meandering through cobbled streets to visit another basilica. You gush to friends back home about everyday lunches in historic villas. Everything’s a thrill.
This is the best stage to be in, says NYU sophomore Shreya Gulati. So keep those photographs and pumped-up blog posts coming!
These are the first signs of unrest. Not only are you frustrated by the slow pace of life abroad, you’re also feeling homesick. “All of us [Americans] are used to instant gratification,” Gulati says. “Europe, and a lot of the world, does not function like that.”
Breathe: even if all you want to do is get back home. Amye Day, Loyola University study abroad adviser, suggests students wait before making rash decisions in these early days.
You start learning to live with the usualness of the unusual. If you can get through the first two weeks without much trouble, you’ll truly begin to settle in, Day says.
Keep calm and carry on: Buses and their schedules don’t match, train doors close in your face, but you just learn to laugh, Gulati says.
You’re such an expert by now that haggling with market vendors and walking by the Colosseum don’t faze you.
This is the time to bring the excitement back. Go scuba dive. Eat something you’ve never heard of.
You’re counting down the days you have left abroad. By the last week of the semester, everyone was ready to head home, Gulati says.
To ward off frustration, list the things you still haven’t done. Take time to reminisce about your experience abroad by organizing your photographs, Day says.
Now that you’re back in the States, you wish you were elsewhere. After months of European cafés, Starbucks just isn’t cutting it anymore. You’ve got a severe case of reverse homesickness.
To combat the blues, stick to your new habits, says Dana Weiner, a psychiatry and behavioral sciences expert at Northwestern University. If you’ve acquired new tastes, find ways to indulge those once you return.
Keep up that afternoon espresso, catch a foreign film and remember: You’ll always have Paris.