Homesick at Home: ‘Eaters Come Home

While many of us searched for seasonal jobs, sat at home marathoning television shows or suffered through summer school, several students went global with various study abroad programs. Anteaters flew all over the world and participated in programs that not only allowed them to attend a university in a foreign country, but also gave them the opportunity to immerse themselves in another nation’s way of life.

After living as a college student in a different country, these Anteaters gained a new perspective on how life operates outside of the United States. Many got familiar with the locals while others became accustomed to the cuisine of their host country. Some made lasting friendships with their classmates at their temporary place of study. Weeks of studying, exploring and adapting became a way of life for some study abroad students.

Now that these summer school abroad participants are back in the States, nostalgia has replaced the excitement they felt while traveling in a foreign nation. These students were put into a perpetual state of adaptation: adapting to life abroad and now adapting to life at home. Many students got used to the amenities and luxuries of being in their host country.

Erin Oliver, a second year drama major, participated in the Summer Session II abroad program in Cambridge, England. Oliver commented on how she adapted to the swift logistics of public transportation in Europe.

“I really miss the public transportation and the feeling that I could get anywhere in the country fairly easily,” Oliver said.

Oliver was able to visit various sites within England and was even fortunate enough to visit Paris during her time studying in Europe. Being capable of getting wherever, whenever, is one of the many conveniences that being abroad had to offer students. However, now that Oliver and other Anteaters touched base at UC Irvine, the beauty of easily navigating around without a car seems far from reach.

Beyond the comfort of comprehensive logistics, Anteaters abroad also grew fond of being in countries with more history and older artifacts than that of the United States.

“Being in London and Cambridge and Edinburgh, you look around and think, ‘This building I’m standing in is older than my country.’ It’s a breath-taking part of the world,” Oliver said.

Baldwin Diep, a fourth year urban studies major, had similar sentiments. Diep, who studied abroad in Arezzo, Italy, reminisced on the beauty and historical significance in his host country.

“I definitely miss being there, it was nice living in such a beautiful country with so much history behind it,” said Diep.

These students had history at their doorstep and foreign beauty all around them. Many were able to travel to historic sites all over the country and surrounding areas on the weekends and in between classes. However, they do not exactly have the same opportunity now that they are back in the United States. As incredible as southern California is, visiting a beach in Corona del Mar doesn’t really compare to the marvels of ancient Rome.

Although siteseeing and historical global monuments are something worth missing, leaving behind a way of life in a different country may take some time getting used to.

When asked what he misses from Italy that America does not have to offer, Diep commented on the Italians’ manner of living.

“[Italy] offered a different perspective. I feel like Italians see the world through different view than Americans. They like to take their time to enjoy the little things,” Diep said.

Beyond the food and the sites and sounds is the experience of living amongst a foreign population — an experience that is hard to forget and unique to roaming in a foreign country.

The simplicity of walking outside and witnessing the beauty of being abroad is a memory that will stay with these students for a lifetime.

“I’d have to say my favorite part of studying at Cambridge was walking out of my building every day to see the beautiful courtyard of Pembroke College, with students playing croquet and an English mist coming down. The experience was a dream come true,” Oliver said.

With these once in a lifetime experiences behind them, the students that were once abroad find themselves feeling homesick at home.