It’s a rainy day in Williamsburg. Students in colorful rain boots and umbrellas are trying to navigate their way to class without slipping on the wet bricks. But in addition to the rain, today is one of the first days that it has felt like autumn. Fall is my favorite season, which is one of the reasons I have loved my past three years at the College of William and Mary.
Williamsburg is great because it gets four seasons. However, I must say in my own biased opinion that fall is the star of the show. Summer runs for just a bit too long in the ‘Burg, so when the temperatures finally drop and the sweltering humidity dissipates, I welcome the change with open arms.
When the weather finally turns cool, it is just beautiful. The crisp air and the falling leaves make spending time on campus, especially Old and Ancient Campus, very enjoyable. It puts me in a great mood to walk by all of the old, brick buildings that are accented by orange, red and yellow leaves. If you have never seen Lake Matoaka in the fall, then please put it on your bucket list. One of my favorite pastimes is canoeing on the lake with friends. In the fall, the reflections of the leaves on the water are stunning — by the edges of the lake, it is difficult to tell where the leaves begin and their beautiful reflections end.
In classic Williamsburg fashion, there will inevitably be a few days in October where the temperature will shoot back up, as if to taunt all the students who thought it was finally sweater weather. There’s nothing like sweating on your walk to class while there are pumpkins and Halloween decorations all around you.
All in all, I’m looking forward to my last fall in the ‘Burg. I know I want to take advantage of being outside as much as I possibly can. Between the schoolwork and extracurricular activities, I look forward to quintessential College activities like cider walks through the streets of Colonial Williamsburg with my friends.
But I’m not just thinking of Williamsburg in the fall today. The rain takes me back to the semester I spent abroad in England. Last spring, I studied for six months at the University of Exeter. It was an absolutely incredible experience. I could not recommend studying abroad enough. However, the start of my senior year has been a transition period because of a little thing called “reverse culture shock.”
At my study abroad orientation, I learned that reverse culture shock is the period of transition after living abroad. Imagine moving to a new country where you don’t know anyone. You have to adjust to a new culture, make friends, learn to navigate and take care of yourself. That’s “culture shock.” Then you spend six months doing all of those things. You make a new life for yourself, have incredible travel experiences and make life-long friends. But one day, just as suddenly as it began, it’s all over. You come back to your home country, where you’ve missed six months of things that have happened. Weirdly enough, you feel like a bit of an outsider in the place that has always been your home. As excited as I was to come home, it was difficult to think that my time abroad was over. Even though my friends and I are planning on having reunions, we’ll never all be in the same place for a long period of time again. We’re probably never going to go to Exeter again either. That’s a very strange thing to think about.
Despite the difficulty of reverse culture shock, if I could do it all over again I would. The amazing experiences I had make this weird period of transition worth it. It is so wonderful being back at the College, and it makes me miss being abroad less and less each day. My suggestion for people who are missing their study abroad experience is to stay busy and keep yourself excited. For me, looking forward to fall weather is one of the ways that I do that. I know it’s going to be a lovely autumn.