Padahastasanas for Post-Abroad Blues

by Nicole Gieselman on October 3, 2018

Padahastasanas for Post-Abroad Blues

by Nicole Gieselman on October 3, 2018

Odds are at some point in your Arcadia career, you’ll have an international experience. The longer the trip, the more opportunities you have to immerse yourself in a foreign culture — and the more likely you are to suffer from a case of those dreaded post-abroad blues.

After returning from four phenomenal months in London, this oh-so-common Arcadia affliction struck me with vengeance. All summer, I struggled to readjust to Glenside’s cozy, tranquil atmosphere. Try as I might to put a halt to my endless reminiscing, it seemed that nothing in my domestic life could to hold a candle to the glamor and adventure of Europe.

I knew I couldn’t lie around moping, expecting adventure to come to me. I had to do something to jolt myself out of the torpor. But what could a sleepy suburb hold that would help me shake off my growing listlessness?

I spent most of the summer fruitlessly searching Philadelphia. Despite the range of wonderful experiences you can find in the City of Brotherly Love, I found myself comparing every activity to what I could be doing— if only I was still abroad. I tried to console myself with hobbies, particularly practicing yoga. I’d developed an interest years ago, when I took one of the classes Arcadia offers. My abundance of free time in London allowed me to hone an independent practice. I used a free app to generate sequences, and quickly discovered just how much I loved the meditative exercise. Back in Glenside, it became a channel of release for my restlessness, posing a physical challenge as well as an opportunity to expand my knowledge of East Asian culture.

Ironically, it was through this practice of looking inward that I finally found my external solution for those pesky post-abroad blues: Dana Hot Yoga.

An often-overlooked Glenside gem, this intimate studio is tucked away on Mt. Carmel, just across the street from the Glenside train station. Although I’d taken a few drop-in classes (they offer a student discount), the hefty price tag had always kept me from buying a full membership. Then, just weeks before the school year started, I learned about their work exchange program.

It’s as simple as it sounds: In return for an hour (or less) spent doing odd jobs around the studio, I can attend a class free of charge.

Practicing with a community of yogis has also dramatically expanded my understanding of the cultural components involved with a well-rounded practice.

- Nicole Gieselman

A full vinyasa session held at a sweltering 95 degrees (the idea being to mimic the tropical conditions of India) might not sound all that appealing. Even without the heat, yoga’s certainly a challenging workout. Yet I emerge from each class feeling powerful, rejuvenated, and strangely at peace. It’s as if the stresses of student life— and that seemingly unshakeable post-abroad lethargy— ooze out of my pores alongside all the sweat.

Granted, pursuing my interest in yoga isn’t as thrilling as jetting off to Paris for a weekend or hiking through the British countryside. But the practice challenges me to focus my energy inward, helping me find balance (literally and figuratively) as I reintegrate with the Arcadia community. Practicing with a community of yogis has also dramatically expanded my understanding of the cultural components involved with a well-rounded practice, where spirituality and individuality intersect.

Yoga hasn’t cured all my post-abroad woes. I still miss London and the freedom that comes with studying abroad. But with a bit of persistence, I’ve found a way to pursue a passion while brightening my outlook on the semester. Now, I’m starting my senior year armed with an enriching hobby, stronger body, and clearer mind. Not bad for the suburbs.