Personally, one of the hardest parts of being abroad is being so detached from culture and news back in the U.S. When I’m in the States, a vital part of my day is watching the news, keeping up on current events, and during a presidential campaign, being more involved and aware. Yes, I still get my CNN updates, Twitter keeps me informed with short headlines from the Huffington Post, Associated Press, and more. But with no TV, many U.S. sites not working overseas, and the huge time difference when trying to watch a debate or a playoff game really contributes to a feeling of detachment. When my parents came to visit, the first thing I asked them was, “Okay, so what is happening back home?” They responded with, “Trust me, nothing important.” They emphasized that I was in Rome, and it shouldn’t be a concern of mine.
It goes further than just political news, national headlines, and the presidential campaign. Even things like entertainment; new music, new movies, keeping up with your favorite TV shows, and sports like the MLB Playoffs. I couldn’t tell you who has the #1 song right now, nor what major film is coming out next month. My sports updates are a few short clips and ESPN notifications. These things, back home, I was always aware of.
In retrospect, maybe I put too much effort into keeping up with the media’s view of the world around me, but really never look up and learn from what I actually see. Being in Europe has made me feel detached, but I have also learned to put my energy and passions into traveling and learning about the world from this side of the globe, meeting new people, having conversations with international students, and discussing the world with a new perspective. Detach, and learn something new.