It's been a month since I departed the U.S. to study in Amsterdam for the fall, and the foreignness feels familiar. This is the third year in a row where I've had to adjust to a new place and a new system: frantically making new friends, desperately making sure I don't go to the wrong class, slowly getting a feel for the academic intensity. The days of exhausting orientation and the frustrating realization that I under-packed feel like a yearly tradition now. If I don't feel anxious over the summer for the unknown that awaits me in the fall, then something must be off.
When you go abroad (depending on the program), you might find other students so excited to finally be away from their home campus. It was the respite from their small student body and claustrophobic campus. But it's strange when you've spent the same amount of time at two different universities, like I've been a visitor in each place. Never settling down in a home.
College is the first time where "home" really becomes a concept rather than a place. After a weekend of walking through Brussels, I just longed to be back with the bikers in Amsterdam. The other day I found the rooftop view at Amsterdam's public library, and I felt nostalgia for Tisch. When I first got to Tufts, paying for laundry made me miss Drexel's free machines and the city liveliness. When I was at Drexel, all I wanted was to go home and eat my mom's food.
I'm a month in and I'm starting to really settle in. I've already packed in a quick European weekend adventure to Belgium and on my way to planning the next. Honestly, more of my stress is planning my travels than studying for exams. I've named my bike and have mastered the one-handed biking (not so much no hands...yet). I've also had my fair share of bike crashes, most recently into a mail van in front of tourists and my laughing friends.
Being abroad is a weird and amazing experience and definitely something that's hard to describe, but lately it just feels like another new school year.