Saturday, 30 January 2016

The Post Erasmus Depression


How an I even begin to explain what has been going through my head through the whole of January. I was in a situation or state of depression with which some of you may be familiar and others not so much. I have been home from my exchange in Portugal for over a month now and I am only just beginning to get myself out of what people call the 'post-erasmus depression'. For weeks after I came home I pictured myself waking up to blue skies or hearing my Portuguese flat mates laughing and speaking in another language. It's just about the most heart breaking thing to realize that suddenly those experiences are now just a memory...

I arrived home just before Christmas to my familiar house in my familiar city only to find that it wasn't so familiar anymore, and that the place I had missed so much and cried for had remained pretty much exactly the same as when I had left it; something which I was quite unable to comprehend in my mind. As much as being reunited with all of my friends and family was an amazing way to end the year there was still an underlying sadness. It was just horrible to think that I would never again awaken to the sound of a Spanish speaking maid trying to get in the front door, or that I would take a pleasant stroll down to the river where I could sit and read my book or listen to music and feel so relaxed, or that I'd be able to take a trip to the beach in mid November or even the possibility that I'd discover something or learn something completely new about my surroundings every single day.

My heart genuinely ached for these times and I missed not just the city of Lisbon but all of the people with whom I'd shared some of these experiences and some of whom I have to sadly admit I may never see ever again. I thought about all of the interesting conversations and the people who had made me feel at home away from home. Locals who helped me navigate when I was lost, my flatmates who were ridiculously messy but made my heart melt by looking after me when I was ill, and all of those who just like me had come from another place to study and to learn all the things that I would study and learn. These were friendships built on shared emotion and legitimite conversation rather than small talk and familiarity. Don't get me wrong I did have my share of drinking buddies too but the connetion and the bond will always be there whether I ever see these people again or not, because we all experienced something together. 

I am proud to say that I opened myself up and went with my emotions and never ever once regretted it. I fell in love at first sight with a beautiful city and made friends with people from all over the world. Although my heart is sad that this chapter in my life is officially over it has made me wonder what else is out there waiting to be discovered. I wonder if I will ever feel so alive again. The experience was so liberating knowing that I had no one in the world beside me for almost four months but by the end I was surrounded by so many people and I'm so happy that even for just 4 months I got to live a life where everything was possible and every person was a new companion just waiting to be discovered and where every wrong turn was an adventure. Life can be so complicated and cruel and I'm glad I took the chances to escape that even for just a little while.

Has anyone else ever done a semester abroad? Would love to know all about your experiences?  
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