Alicia Zheng is an intern with the Education Abroad team at the International Studies Office here at UVA. Last spring semester, she studied with DIS Copenhagen in Denmark. Read some of her thoughts below on what she learned while abroad and what it was like for her after she returned to the states and UVA.
One of the best things about returning from studying abroad was seeing how my new habits from living in Copenhagen fit into my life at UVa and at home. I picked up some healthier habits, like eating the right food to fuel my renewed love for exercise. I also think that the culture encouraged me to be more honest and self-reflective. What are my personal goals, regardless of what people around me are striving to achieve? What do I think will help me achieve happiness, despite what others are expecting of me? Overall, I’m deeply grateful for the experience I had and can’t wait to visit Copenhagen again.
It wasn’t too bad coming back from Denmark to the US. I’ve done quite a bit of travelling with my family before, so reverse culture shock isn’t a new experience to me. However, since I studied abroad in the spring, coming back to UVa after 8 months away was pretty difficult to adjust back to. My host country felt much more reserved and relaxed compared to the hectic, stressful environment at UVa. It was strange to constantly have to be around a lot of different people again. My free time was lessened by a tenfold. I was exhausted by just having to interact with so many people for the first few weeks. I found that, even now, taking a day or two completely to myself is absolutely necessary for my own benefit. It’s okay to take a little time to recharge every once in a while – personally, it keeps me sane.