Watching the glistening lights of the Eiffel Tower at night, bar hopping in Ireland, being serenaded by a gondolier in Venice, and eating your weight in authentic international food: these are the experiences many people dream of when booking a European vacation. After a full year of saving money and researching travel companies, I found myself ready to leave my small town in Pennsylvania for a six-week tour through Western Europe.
The trip was everything I’d ever imagined (excuse the cliché). I traveled through eight European countries, starting in Ireland, and making my way down to Italy. I climbed the Swiss Alps, drank wine under the Eiffel Tower, saw the mysterious rocks of Stonehenge, walked the stone streets of ancient Pompeii, and so much more. Everyone who’s been abroad will be itching to tell you how amazing it is, the things you must see, and what to avoid, but nobody prepares you for the bittersweet reunion with your hometown. Here are three things to prepare for when you’re returning home.
American food might make you sick
Upon my arrival in Ireland, I stumbled into a small café called the Queen of Tarts. It was early afternoon, and in an attempt to shake off my jet lag, I decided to grab some lunch. I took one bite into my sandwich, and *gasp* what’s that!? Is that what a vegetable is supposed to taste like?! I felt like I’d be missing out my whole life…these vegetables tasted far superior to their American counterparts: fresher, crunchier, and tastier. Throughout my trip, I indulged in amazing foods from every country, and even the mediocre food tasted healthier than my “healthy” meals at home. But, unfortunately for me, adjusting back to American food isn’t quite as easy. After just six weeks in Europe, I noticed that our bread seemed sweeter, our pizza greasier, and our vegetables limper. Not only was I disappointed in the food I was eating, but some of it even made me sick. One of my favorite meals of hot wings and cheesy bacon fries that I used to enjoy entirely, now made me nauseous. It took me about a week to readjust to my old diet, so plan to eat very healthy for at least your first few days back in America.
Coming home will be bittersweet
When it’s time to pack your bags, and make the journey to the airport for your flight back home, it will be bittersweet. You’re saying goodbye to the trip you’ve spend so much time planning, and saying goodbye to all the friends you made abroad. You’ll probably be excited to see your friends and family back home, and you’ll definitely be excited to sleep in your own bed, but it’s sad to end the trip you so desperately wanted. You might even get nostalgic on the flight back home…I never thought I could be nostalgic about something that happened two and a half weeks ago, but I was.
You’ll immediately start planning for your next trip
Once you catch the travel bug, you’ll never get rid of it. My six week tour through Europe was my first time abroad-hell it was my first time out of the east coast! Before I left, I thought that I would only ever be interested in going to the big-name countries…I mean what is there to do in Indonesia anyway? Boy was I wrong. I have gained a greater appreciation for visiting other countries and learning about their cultures. Not only do I still want to see the big named countries like Australia and Greece, but I’m also excited to visit the less popular countries, like Chile, Iceland, Morocco, and (you guessed it) Indonesia. I’ve been planning for dozens of future trips ever since I got home. I just can’t stop.
It’s now about a year and a half after my trip to Europe, and I still miss being abroad. I’m addicted to keeping up with new travel destinations, and I’m constantly adding to my travel boards on Pinterest (yes, that’s right-boards…. I have seven). Most importantly, I can’t wait to get back on a plane and continue to see the world.