Fall is my favorite season– it always has been, and, most likely, always will be. Most of it I can attribute to growing up on the east coast, where crisp, mountain air, maple leaf lattes, listening to Carole King and The Lumineers during a morning walk, and nature’s brilliant colors work to create a cozy, yet stimulating ambiance.
At Hope, there is a surplus of things to do during the fall. Some of my favorites include: cheering on the Odd Year team at the Pull, studying late at night at my old cottage’s dining room table, going canoeing with my sorority sisters, watching yellow leaves fall onto 8th street from Ferris Coffee’s windows, and watching Gilmore Girls on-end to cure slight homesickness. These experiences are quintessential to my fall routine, and they’re something that I look forward to each year. Even as I write about them, I grow nostalgic and feel a slight craving for a maple leaf latte.
But, this year, my usual fall routines – and the elements that make them great– aren’t with me.
Personally, navigating this dynamic of enjoying my time in a new place, but missing the multipolarity of places and people that I call home, is a challenge. This is something that I have heard is inevitable when studying abroad, and if I’m being honest, I didn’t think that it would hit me.
So what have I been doing to navigate this challenge of falling in love with somewhere new, all while supplementing the comfort of my old routines?
Here’s what I’ve been doing (and you can, too, if you study abroad!):
- Call my mom/dad/best friend/sibling/significant other/housemates/grandparents/etc.
- I give the playlist, album, tv show, or podcast, that I usually listen to during the semester, a listen on my daily commute!
This can act as a sense of auditory comfort, especially if you’re studying in a place where you’re learning the language. Lucky for me, I can recreate my fall soundtrack by listening to Carole King and the Lumineers on Switzerland’s music streaming services.
- I try different coffee shops, or restaurants, and sample foods/drinks/desserts that may remind me of home. You may even find a new, favorite twist on a dish you love…I know I have!
Sorry mom, but, during Christmas break, there *hypothetically* might be apricot jam on the food shopping list to accompany my usual morning bread… Definitely hypothetical, though….
But while doing this…
- I try new things!
When studying abroad, you have the incredible opportunity to create a new routine with new places, foods, people, etc. For me, I remembered that even at Hope, I had to undergo the process of developing a new routine in order to determine what makes my time at Hope special and memorable! Try studying at a new library, taking a new route that goes past the church whose bells ring on your way back home, or even taking two minutes to say hello to the barista who makes your daily cafe au lait before class. While in Geneva, I have determined my favorite coffee places (and baristas!), libraries, church, and even lunch spots that I go to many times a week. Already, these places, and the derived routines, have made a huge difference (and even made me feel even more connected to Switzerland)!
When I return back to Hope in the Spring, I know that I will miss Switzerland, just as I miss Hope while in Switzerland. However, understanding that this transition serves as an incredible opportunity to discover new things and create a personal connection to a new place, makes the challenge all the more worth it.
In Switzerland, the leaves are just starting to change and the crisp, mountain air is starting to creep its way into the early mornings. Though this fall will entail different routines, they will be equally, if not more, memorable and special.