Getting back to the states is rarely easy after a semester filled with super cheap intra–Europe air travel, a lower drinking age, plentiful beaches and hopefully easy As. Alas, study abroad always comes to an end, leaving students in the harsh American sunlight with only their stories from the past semester and Instagram posts of that wall in Spain to comfort them.  Read on to hear how some of your fellow Quakers are handling the transition.

Meredith Brandt (C'18)

"I miss the freedom of living in London," said Brandt. "Compared to Penn, I had so few commitments and responsibilities. It was a little intimidating and overwhelming at first, but being back I already miss it." While she was across the pond, Brandt jumped into a play, joined an improv group and even tried stand–up comedy for the first time while abroad. You know what they say: you can take the girl out of Penn, but she'll still join ten clubs. 

"The best part of my study abroad experience was the people," she says. " I had the opportunity to meet and get close with full–time students at the university I was at, which was so amazing. I now have a whole crew of British friends that—if I hopefully one day get to go back—I’ll get to visit again." 

Landon Echols (W ’18)

Echols thought the culture shock was greater between his American and Australian universities than between America and Australia themselves. There wasn’t much of  difference when he came back to America after a semester down under, but returning to Penn itself was a big adjustment. Echols noted the marked difference between Australia's relaxed culture and “the very go–go–go culture we have here" at Penn.

He was also struck by the discovery that, even 10,000 miles away, Australians were very knowledgeable about American politics.“I remember the day of [the election], the Australians were so much more into our politics than their own, because ours is such a reality show,” he said.

And true to the Australian stereotype, Echols encountered at least one highly poisonous creature while studying abroad: a boxed jellyfish, which he saw while he was snorkeling. 

Caroline Coughlan (E'18)

Coughlan's favorite memories of abroad center on adventures with fellow Penn students—namely, ones involving authentic German dirndls and Oktoberfest in Munich.  The trip to Germany was one of the first she took while abroad, and to her delight, it was incredibly easy visiting new cities.

"One thing I miss is being so close to Mainland Europe and being able to cheaply fly to completely different places in just a few hours," she says. 

Returning to Penn, Coughlan  also reminisces on her classes abroad. "They were definitely more relaxed than Penn classes. I didn't have as much work so I could do a lot more with my day other than going to class and doing work." Being home, however, has its own charm. As much as she loved being abroad, sometimes it's nice to take a break from all the jet–setting and to reunite with friends and family. 

Photos Courtesy of Creative Commons