The 20 Hardest Things About Coming Home After Living Abroad

Hidup di Amerika Serikat

This post is inspired by this beautifully written piece on Thought Catalog.

While I can’t relate to all of what the blogger said in this post, most of it I can relate to. I lived in Australia (2 months) and USA (10 months). Before I went to that country, I always had a pre-departure orientation to prepared myself for a new world out there. I did a great job in adjusting to the new culture and way of living…until it was time to go back to Indonesia.


I’ve been told how hard it is to merge these new cultures and ways of being and thinking into my native culture and I tried to… just to fit in.

Some might find it harder on the others depending on their situation back home. From my personal experiences here are the 19 hardest things to adjust to when I go back home after living abroad :

1. I have had dreams where in my family, city, country, whatever it may be has changed for the good — and then waking up and realizing that, at least for now, everything still remains the same, if not perhaps worse.

2. I got used to with the BIG size of everything (meal, clothes, house, road etc) and so I found my house and my old room had gotten smaller.

3. Remembering my friends saying “Please keep in touch” and realizing it’s a great effort to do so because everyone has their own lives and I can’t expect them to say “Hi” everyday. Even though I long for that exact thing!

4. You will hear me says “But in America…” and then people will think I am bragging or sort of. And then they will say “But this is not America.” and think I’ve become Americanized.

5. I have begun to put particular song in my playlist to bring back the memories and end up repeat it again and sobbing.

6. Play a youtube video, and if I spot a tourist place where I have been, I will get excited – but have no one to share it with.

7. It is dilemma to be treated so well by my host families, coordinator, support team member and fellow participant/student. They become my family, and it hurts to say goodbye.

8. It was a once-in-a-lifetime-experience. In saying that i mean it literally. Even if I can afford it, the experience will never be the same. Time passes, life changes and that experience will forever remain a “once in a life time” memory.

9. I must go back to being the favorite target of mosquito.

10. While my English is not yet great, now my Indonesian language has also messed up. I talk in between, mixed with two languages and only my fellow friend that had been through the same journey understand my alien language.

11. The romantic relationship doubled the pain. Timezone and distance tripled the pain.

12. The bucket list is getting long because I have to visit many people in their home country.

13. When going through my scraps of memories, I have a hard time selecting which brochure, map, pictures, card, prints to be keep and which will end up in the trash.

14. Losing passion and being lazy for a while. I remembered not unpack my two excess luggage for as long as I can, thinking maybe I will go there again…someday.

15. Feel jealously for someone who go there and thinking If only they have something urgent and I can replace their position.

16. I don’t usually eat some particular food, but then I realize I errr miss it!

17. Regretting not make some time to visit the place I want to go, people I want to visit, food I want to try and something that now I could not do it anymore.

18. For someone that came from third world country, having a fast internet conncetion is a privilege. Now I had to face reality again and not be able to watch youtube without buffering.

19. Fearing that being forgotten by people I left behind because the program is over, I pack my luggage, back to my own country while the new replacement comes.

20. I missed my sister’s wedding, my grand mother and auntie passed away, my brother moved out – and I couldn’t turn back time.

In the end,

“Realizing that you’re not really sure what “home” is anymore, because even though this is technically where you come from, you’re not sure you fit into the shape of the puzzle piece that you left behind. In a lot of ways, your time abroad felt much more like home, and maybe you won’t ever really feel settled until you can actually call it that — even if you’re all too familiar with how difficult immigration is. Being where you belong, maybe not today but someday, is something you’re willing to work for.” – Chelsea Fagan

It takes time, patience and effort to call Jambi once again, Home.

To be honest, there are also some good things about coming home like this.

Travel Now or NEVER
14 Responses
  1. si engkong

    ha ha Lenni begitulah kalau sementara waktu tinggal di negeri orang jadi ada rasa kehilangan dan ada rasa mendapatkan sesuatu yang baru, selamat sudah kembali ke tengah keluarga lagi

  2. Anonymous


    you'll find "the half one" as you move on, let it just be the sweet remain. Well Parting is always sad but Moving on is also an happy ending. Welcome Home


  3. Inspiratif! Kadang aku juga ngerasa hal yang sama. Jadi tiba-tiba beda pola pikirnya sama lokal, ngomong acak adul, berasa pengen ngubah keadaan tapi akirnya harus belajar nerima kalo kita masih belom bisa bergerak lebih jauh.

  4. JM

    Thank you Lenny for these wonderful words of wisdom. As you know I was a foreign exchange student also, a long, long time ago…and I still can remember those feelings! All the good times you will remember fondly all your life and the painful will make you stronger. All in all it’s a great adventure to travel like you do – and write so well about!

  5. Anne

    You will always be the missing piece of a puzzle, maybe it is not the puzzle you left behind when you moved away but it can be the new puzzle you find when you move into a new place. Looking ahead is what counts:)

  6. Adry

    I kind of feel really had the same feeling related on abroad program sick based on my experience… Particularly ini romantic experience hehe…. Kind of really hard to forget….hihihi

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