By: Peter Mate, Fairleigh Dickinson University, Vancouver Campus, winner of the 2017 Stories from Abroad Scholarship and a member of the BC Study Abroad Writer in Residence Team.
Have you heard that the majority of people fear public speaking more than they fear death? Personally, I get it. I have always dreaded the seemingly constant public speaking associated with higher education. We have all been there. From introductions on the first day of classes, to the instructor calling on you unexpectedly, or worse: class presentations.
It was 9 am and my clothes were already sticking to my skin as we strolled down the cracked streets towards the riverbank. I needed to make one quick stop at the little money exchange kiosk at the end of the block. A man in a white t-shirt and jean shorts sat on a wooden chair with a crate propped up beside him. I needed more pesos, so I plopped down a crisp fifty-dollar American bill and a used looking twenty. He pushed the twenty back and pointed at the folded corner; damaged bills were not accepted. I was told this was a common request among rural exchanges.
When I first experienced what people call it, the ‘reverse culture shock’, I was quite bummed out because having lived in Vancouver for over 20 years, I thought I knew the city pretty well. I didn’t think that living in South Korea for one year would change my mindset and behaviour this much upon my return, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. For those of you experiencing reverse culture shock and struggling to “re-live” the life prior to living abroad, just know that you will eventually adapt. All you need is time; because after all, you are returning home.
Travelling is a big must-do for study abroad students. Take advantage of the fact that you are at a school surrounded by students who share the same mindset as you. You can learn about one another during your travels together, and better yet learn about a new culture together. Chances are that you are also geographically a lot closer to several different cities and countries than you were in Canada too (since Canada is so spread out)!
I did not want my study abroad experience to end and I am sure many of you feel the same way. I made so many amazing memories that I was scared of losing them forever! Though it is probably inevitable, you are likely going to forget some things you wish you wouldn’t. I tried to look on the positive side of this thought: if I am able to be reminded of a memory, it is a great feeling to think “wow I totally forgot I did that, it was awesome”! If you happen to be a bit forgetful, I find it much easier to recall your experiences when something else sparks the memory for you.
Turkey! The land of Turkish delights, the Blue Mosque, and the most delicious food I have ever eaten. When my study abroad adventure began in Milan, I was eager to explore the bustling countries that we so frequently see on our device screens. The Eiffel Tower, London Bridge, and the Coliseum were just a few of the “must see” landmarks that were constantly being pushed on me. They are magnificent, however I wanted to go on an adventure away from tourists.