Honestly, despite the fact that it was my best year ever, it was also my worst…
Let me explain. So for my study abroad year (which if you are wondering, is a pass/fail year that is taken in the third year of university before returning to finish the final year) I studied at CSUMB in Monterey, California. I met so many wonderful people, I explored so many exciting and stunning places, did so much that was new and thrilling and then I returned to a rainy miserable Leeds, UK. I am now finishing my final year, just willing the year away so I can have done with being stuck inside doing work and have some freedom again.
Last year I explored Monterey, Carmel and the surrounding area; camped and hike in Big Sur; went to San Francisco; road tripped up to Oregon; went to LA for thanksgiving; lived in Santa Cruz for a month over Christmas; went to Lake Tahoe skiing for my birthday; road tripped up to Canada and back stopping at Portland, Seattle, Vancouver, Victoria and back; went to Vegas for a long weekend; went to Hawaii for spring break; road tripped down to Santa Barbara; and then I travelled from West Coast to East Coast for a month by train, plane, and bus all before returning home after 11 months of being in America.
So, maybe you can understand why I am now back in my second semester in my final year and slightly resenting the fact I cannot just step outside and there is sunshine, I cannot just walk for 10 minutes and come to a beach where I can watch wild dolphins and whales from the shore.
One thing that my study abroad year did make me realise was how much I love the outdoors, how much I love to explore and find new beautiful places. This came back to England with me, I have realised that I do live in a beautiful area, and there is much more to Leeds/the North of England than just staying in the city. Wherever I am, I notice a lot more and appreciate a lot more. I also met so many people from different countries and was exposed to so many cultures, and now I feel like wherever in the world I may visit, I will always know someone who will make the place feel familiar.
All in all, I would 100% do it again and recommend a study abroad year to anyone, but just realise that facing reality again is not quite a walk in the park.