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When You Return from Abroad

Welcome Back!  We hope that your study abroad experience provided you with unforgettable memories. Right now you may be feeling a variety of emotions while you adjust to being back home, just as you experienced when you first arrived overseas. We would like to help make this transition a little easier by providing you with information about Reverse Transition Adjustment or Re-Entry.

 

 Does it feel as though your friends and family don't understand the importance of your experience abroad? Does everyday life here seem to be so trivial? After returning home, do you ever feel depressed, uncertain, confused or restless?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may be experiencing Reverse Culture Shock.

 

While you were abroad, you may have initially looked at some local customs as silly and wondered why people there did not do things "the right way " or "the American way." Over time you probably lost some of these feelings and began to feel that your host culture had even better customs and ways of dealing with situations than at home. Now that you've returned to the U.S., you may experience similar feelings, wondering why Americans don't do things right or follow what you have now come to believe as the correct way to deal with a situation.
 

The key to re-entering your home culture is to realize that there may be frustrations with readjusting to life in the United States, and that the frustrations are a normal part of your cross-cultural experience.

  Please click here to learn about the Stages of Reverse Culture Shock

Hints to Make Transition Easier

Realize that most students experience some stress readjusting to the American culture - you are not alone! Typically, the more you immersed yourself in the host culture, the more difficult you may find reentry. Find someone who can update you on the university, local and national changes that may have taken place while you were abroad. You may recognize that many of your values and beliefs have changed. Learn to incorporate this new way of thinking into your life.

 

Understand that your friendships and relationships might change as a function of your new experiences. Explore new places and people with whom you can share your international experiences.

 

Recognize that you need some time to adjust to the hectic pace and pressures of university life. Learn to gradually increase the pace of your academic studies and extracurricular activities. You may notice that the "old ways" of managing your time and stress are no longer appropriate. Seek counsel from academic advisors, "veteran" study abroad students, and other supportive faculty and staff.

 
Recording Your Experiences
Just as you may have done when you were abroad, you may choose to keep a journal of your experiences and feelings after you return to the U.S. Some possible questions to ask yourself are:
  • What did I learn about the host culture? About myself?
  • How can I apply what I learned to my life back in the U.S.?
  • What is my perception of the US now that I've returned home? What do I like most about my home culture? The least?
  • How could I describe the "world" that now surrounds me? How does this differ from the "world" I just left?

Staying Involved

  • Volunteer at OIP to help recruit students to study abroad. You will be able to share your experiences with students who are interested in going to your same study-abroad location.
  • Contribute an article about your experience to The A&T Register.
  • Enroll in the Global Studies Certificate program (GSCP) where you can directly apply what you learned from your recent academic and travel experiences.
  • Talk to your professors and advisor about conducting a project(s) that extends themes addressed in your experiences abroad.
Maintaining Language Proficiency
After spending a summer, semester or year in a non-English speaking country, you no doubt developed language skills that take years to perfect in the classroom. Now that you have this ability, don't you want to keep it? Here are some suggestions for maintaining your language proficiency:
  • Register for a class taught in the target language.
  • Stay in touch with your friends and host family abroad. Make an arrangement so that they can not only practice English, but you can practice their native language as well.
  • Tune into news broadcast in your foreign language by using a short wave radio or the Internet.

 

Once again, Welcome Home!
 

This information was created for students like you, coming home from studying abroad. Please e-mail us your suggestions and experiences when dealing with Reverse Culture Shock.

Adapted from the University at Buffalo The State University of New York Study Abroad Programs and Michigan State University International Studies

North Carolina A&T State University International Affairs