When the flame burns low; how to deal with burnout abroad


Photo courtesy of Charger Bulletin/Stephen Gangi.

A sunset in Sweden, Feb. 11, 2023.

As I am writing this, I am sitting alongside the city wall in a small park–– one that I recently discovered from the local inhabitants of Prato. It is located right outside the city center and, though it isn’t much, it is exactly what I needed to bring me a greater feeling of familiarity abroad.

My hometown is small and located atop a mountain in northern New Jersey, surrounded by nothing but dense forests and beautiful lakes for miles. This little park, situated inside the big city, may not compare to the environment that I know and love back home, but it does provide me with a haven that I can retreat to when feeling overwhelmed or burned out.

College burnout is very real and very possible, even when studying abroad.

Being faced with limitless potential and possibilities, it is easy to forget the initial reason behind signing up to study abroad: advancing in your academic journey and experiencing true independence.

So how do we deal with this burnout abroad? To be honest, I haven’t found an answer to that yet. I could give you a little insight into the steps I have been taking to lessen the feeling and to get started on my work, but this process is different for each person. What works for me may not work for you. I’ve realized, however, that although I feel like I don’t know which direction to turn, the answers are usually right there in front of me, waiting for me to take the steps to reach them.

As I walk from my hotel to school, or when I need to grab food across town, I frequently find myself turning to music and solidarity when I need a moment to recuperate from the constant stimulants that surround me. My usual response to this, which usually consists of two airpods and loud music as I walk across campus, isn’t a luxury I feel I can afford here. I find myself focusing more on observing my surroundings rather than enjoying the stroll.

I worry more about missing out on the adventure I came here for, as I tuck myself into bed to nap each day and prevent myself from continuing to experience the world I am currently a part of.

As I said, there isn’t a means to rid yourself of college burnout. Mine may last longer or be much shorter than yours. But no matter how tough it may feel, I know this is only temporary and subject to change as the days go on and new opportunities present themselves to me.

My goals will still be complete whether I take a day, month or semester to resolve my burnout, and I know I will return home with memories that will last a lifetime. That is what I hold onto. That is what I strive to do. That is what I will accomplish.