Coming home early is the nightmare that every study abroad student has. For all of the global class of spring 2020, that was our reality. I always knew that transitioning back to the US culture was going to be hard but going from exploring Buenos Aires without a care of being sent home to being quarantined in my childhood bedroom in a 48 hour time span was definitely not the experience I had imagined. All the alone time between these walls left a lot of space for all the should of, would have, could of. I found myself at times attempting to forget the experience completely to save myself from the hurt of it all. The truth of the matter is the situation sucks and there’s no changing that. But also, this situation sucks for a lot of people and while that doesn’t invalidate my own feelings of disappointment, it provides perspective that at least I’m not alone in all of this. Keeping in contact with friends from my program and friends I made from Argentina shows me that these things I am feeling are valid and real. Keeping in touch with my friends in Charleston helps me remember that all of us study abroad students aren’t the only one’s suffering cancellations and inconveniences during this time.
Keeping in touch with the news of the world around me offers me hope that this is a fight we are all fighting together. Yes this situation sucks, but in different ways for everyone that can’t be compared. Now that I can move from quarantine into physical (not social) distancing, I’m trying to appreciate my study abroad experience for what it was, a true gift of a month living abroad, and find small joys in the memories and experiences I get to bring back and share with my family and friends. We have a choice to approach it with a mindset of gratitude instead of comparison. I can still do my homework and drink mate in my backyard and pretend it’s Plaza de Naciones Unidas. I can share Argentine cuisine with my family by making homemade empanadas. I can practice my Spanish by video chatting with my Argentine friends. It is different than what we all expected our semester would look like but it’s our reality. So to my fellow global class of spring 2020 I hope you can find ways to bring the love of study abroad home, joys in these different moments, and know that your host country will be there in the future waiting to welcome you back as soon as you’re ready.