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The Greyhound

How to protect your friends from abroad fatigue


This is the time of year when the last group of juniors who will be studying abroad are getting ready to leave. With 60 percent of juniors studying abroad in some capacity, chances are if you do not know someone going abroad, you will.

It is a wondrous time and a year ago, I was doing the same thing. I studied in Auckland, New Zealand in the spring of 2013 and could not have enjoyed it more. I got to enjoy two summers in one year and spent five months seeing more of New Zealand than I have seen of the United States. I bungee-jumped off of a bridge, was the first one out of the plane and drove on the left side of the road all while seeing some of the most beautiful places I could ever have imagined.

So I completely understand wanting to share photos, videos and endless stories with the world about how amazing studying abroad is because I have been you. But I am also here to tell you that not everyone feels the same way. I am talking about the “abroad fatigue” experienced by those who did not study abroad with you.

Those who did not study abroad are glad you had this experience and they know it was amazing. This list includes your family, your friends from home and your study abroad Baltimore friends from school. Most likely, most of these people are your friends on Facebook or followers on Instagram. They have seen all your pictures, collages and read all of your hashtags. That sunrise marked “#sobeautiful #isthisreallife #nevercominghome”—they have seen it. The one of you standing in front of famous landmarks? Also seen it. The one of you in various group photos in front gorgeous scenery? Lovely pictures, everyone is glad you had fun, but trust me, they do not want to hear about the details of it. They most likely have seen all of your photos online so unless you have a secret stash that you kept only for yourself, chances are they have already seen whatever photo you want to show them.

As lovely as your photos are and no matter how much better everything was abroad, trust me, people do not want to hear about it too much. They want to hear a couple stories and may be willing to look at a few pictures again, but you have to do your best to contain that word vomit. You know what I am talking about: when the words, “When I was abroad…” come out of your mouth and you literally cannot stop them. It may be a song, a food or something totally ridiculous like a type of pen that triggers an abroad memory and the overwhelming urge to share. When you first get back this will be accepted because you are still transitioning back to your home life, but that excuse will wear thin quickly. When people ask how your time was abroad, they are looking for a brief response along the lines of “It was amazing…” No one wants to hear how much you loved it, everything you did and how much you hate it here now.

People also do not want to see that throwback Thursday photo of you standing on a mountain with a caption like “One year ago today, I embarked on a journey that completely transformed me, body and soul. I would give anything to go back there because it made me who I am and I miss it every day.” This type of post might also include #canigoback, #missitsomuch, or #besttimeofmylife. We know it was the best time of your life and you loved every second of it but keep it to yourself. Even other people who studied abroad will look down on you with this type of post. Mostly because wherever a person studied abroad is infinitely better than wherever you studied abroad (Melbourne over Auckland, I think not).

I urge everyone who has studied abroad or will study abroad to keep these tips in mind. This is a universal problem with studying abroad. Everyone else gets tired of your stories but you. I am trying to spare you the sighs, eye rolls and sideways looks that I have experienced.

The best way to get out all of your abroad musings and not exhaust those around you is to reconnect with the only people who want to talk about your abroad experience as much as you do, the people who went with you. These are the people who will sit and look through all the pictures again, relive the great times at the campus bar or running to catch a bus in the rain.

Everyone else would prefer to talk about other things, such as the Super Bowl or the possible upcoming snowstorm. However, if you would like to see my pictures, I would be more than willing to go through my two leather bound photo albums.

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How to protect your friends from abroad fatigue