I have been home from Australia for 1 year, 3 months, and 23 days. I have been in a country that I can’t completely call my home for 1 year, 3 months, and 23 days. I miss it every day and I’m sure everyone in my circle is tired of hearing about it. The first few days of being back in the States were a lot of staring at the wall, living in Australia time (which is 15 hours ahead), being overwhelmed with constant data/Wi-Fi, and wishing I could hop on a plane to go on another grand adventure.
However, my sleep schedule slowly began to get back on track, I ate my favorite American food, and I got back to working with my horses and everything was going to be alright. I realized that even though Australia and Kentucky are separated by 30 hours of travel, I could find pieces of Australia here. I put all my magnets and souvenirs out where I could see them every day, my walls are adorned with pictures, and I follow a variety of Australian social media pages. I became an Education Abroad Peer Ambassador so I could share my experience abroad with people who understood my pain of being home and to get more people to embark in a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. While my weekend adventures no longer include snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef or horseback riding on the beach, I fill my weekends with hikes, exploring the backside of racetracks, and finding new restaurants. Finding adventures in your state will help you cope with being back home. People in Australia are also very active-I brought this mindset back with me and now I feel a little bit of Australia every time I go on a run.
Studying abroad is an opportunity that not everyone gets to experience and not everyone understands your feelings once you get home. There, however, plenty of students who have studied abroad that feel the same way you do-meet them and share your experiences with each other; keep in touch with your host family and keep up to date on your country’s culture; portray your souvenirs for everyone to see. Being home will get easier, but there is no shame in dreaming about when you will return to your second home.
Erin Daugherty is a senior pursing a degree in Equine Science and Management with minors in Business and Agricultural Economics. She studied abroad the summer of 2015 in Sydney and Brisbane, Australia with the “Equine Down Under” program. Erin witnessed and studied the Australian equestrian community and hopes to use some of their innovations to improve America’s equine industry.