Name: Emily Gustin

Location: Cambridge, England

It has been over six weeks since I was recalled from studying abroad in Cambridge, and I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on my experience. Leaving to live in a country that I had never been to was very difficult, but it doesn’t compare to how I felt when I had to come back to the US. Adjusting to change has never been a strong suit of mine, and this has been one of the biggest transitions of my life. Oddly enough, my whole study abroad experience has prepared me for something like this, and I’m doing my best to focus on being adaptable and calm in a situation that I cannot control.

I know that many are experiencing grief at this time about all kinds of things. Friends and family are missed; plans, trips, and graduations are cancelled. Some deal with financial instability, job loss, or even the illness itself. This virus has changed almost all aspects of life and everyone has been affected by it in some way. I never expected to come home to such a halted society, which has been one of the hardest things that I have had to cope with since I have returned. Slowly, I have found a new “normal” and have learned to accept my current situation. As cliché as it sounds, I really do believe that everything happens for a reason, and sometimes things have to fall apart to make way for new things.

As for now, I try my best to focus on the positives. Slowly but surely, I am finishing up my schoolwork for the end of the term, which will be over in just a few weeks. As the weather improves, I am spending more time outside and going on walks. I am video chatting with my Cambridge cohort every week, as well as my friends from Valpo. I am learning to be gentle with myself each day and doing my best, which is all I can really ask from myself.

I cherish my memories of Cambridge and everywhere else that I was able to travel to– I am so grateful to have had the opportunity. I met new people and learned so much about myself and about cultures that are different from my own. I know that someday, when all is well, I will return to England, as well as the rest of Europe, to see more of the world. For now, I pray for healing and look forward to when we can all be together again.

To all the students who read this blog: if you’re considering studying abroad, you should do it. Everyone who comes back always says that “it changes your life.” It does, but maybe not in the way you think it will. Not every day is going to be the best day of your life. Just like home, you’re going to have good days and bad days. It turns out that you have to study while studying abroad, too, and it can be hard to balance while experiencing so many new things at once. But you learn so much from this, and you come back home a little bit different than before. The best part of my study abroad experience has been this growth that I have realized within myself, and I want to encourage everyone who has the slightest curiosity about going abroad to go. It’s worth it.