Now that you're back…
Studying overseas was undoubtedly one of the most academic and culturally enriching experiences of your life. It is an experience that will forever change how you view the world and how you interact with it. It is vital that you find ways to use this experience in your life at home, both to make the most of your own experience and to share your experience with those around you in order to change their lives.
The key is to achieve an ideal balance of reconnecting with your life back at home, while at the same time staying in touch with your new experiences abroad.
Your reactions to re-entry may vary, and may include one or more of the following:
- Reverse homesickness
- Changes in goals and priorities
- Negativity or intolerance towards the your home country including behavior, attitudes, customs, and common social practice
No matter how much time you spent abroad, you will experience differences in yourself, your family and friends, and your surroundings upon your return home. At times, you may feel that no one understands how you've changed, and it may be difficult for you to realize that life has not only changed for you, but it has also changed for your friends and family. All of these things can make you feel a little out of place at home.
This process is much like the cultural adjustment you experienced when you first went abroad, only in reverse. Similar to having to adjust when you go to another country, you must make some adjustments coming home as well. The coping skills and strategies that were successful in helping you adjust to your host culture will be just as helpful coming home: get involved, identify a support group of other study abroad students, suspend judgment until you understand a situation, and always, always keep a sense of humor.
- Continue writing in the journal that you used abroad, or purchase one if you have not yet done so.
- Know that you're not alone in your feelings. Most students experience the discomforts of re-entry, although degrees of severity differ greatly.
- Learn to share your experience in small doses.
- Don't forget to ask friends and family about their lives while you were away. Others could have had valuable growing experiences at home during your absence, so talk with them about what has changed and let them know you are interested in their lives.
- Talk to both former and future study abroad students on your campus.
- Befriend international students on campus.
- Stay in touch with the people you met while studying abroad.
- Go to an elementary, middle, or high school language class and do a presentation about your time abroad.
- Seek out opportunities in your community.