Congratulations on your successful study abroad-away experience! Now that you are back on campus, there are some things that you want to be aware of. First, you will want to touch base with the Study Abroad-Away Office to let us know all about your study abroad-away experience and to share some of your photos. Secondly, you will want to work with Career Services to update your resume to reflect your experience abroad-away while the memory is still fresh in your mind. You will find that future employers and graduate and professional schools will have a keen interest in what you have accomplished.
Difficulties of Returning from Abroad
Just as you had adjustment issues when you went abroad (culture shock), you are likely to have some adjustment issues upon your return; this is called reverse culture shock. You return to the United States a changed person; you have perhaps developed new ways of living your days, new eating habits, new ways of dressing, etc. You may also notice that home is not what it seems; friends and family may seem a little different and things are not quite as you remember. This is perfectly normal and most everyone experiences this! Remember what it was like when you went away? There are a lot of similarities! One thing to note, it is not unusual for reverse culture shock to have a bigger impact on you than the culture shock you experienced when you went away.
So, what are the signs of reverse culture shock? While the following list is certainly not exhaustive, it might help you determine if you are suffering from reverse culture shock:
- I am bored being at home!
- Life is not exciting as it was abroad.
- People don’t seem to be too interested in hearing about my experiences.
- People and places seem different to me.
- People tell me that I seem different and act differently.
- I get frustrated trying to explain my experiences to those who don’t understand them.
- I really want to go back to where I studied abroad.
- I feel really lonely, even though I am around my friends.
- I don’t feel thrilled about American culture.
- It is harder for me to relate to people than before I went abroad.
- Stay positive! Keep in mind that some of the feelings you have are only temporary!
- Consider how your experience abroad-away has helped you grow both personally and professionally and how those experiences will serve you well down the road.
- Stay healthy and active!
- Volunteer to work with the Study Abroad-Away Office to help promote study programs and to talk with students who are considering studying abroad-away.
- Volunteer to tell your story and show your photos in the residence halls.
- Volunteer to write an article about your international experience for the school newspaper.
- Blog about your experiences abroad or capture your experiences in a journal that you can read for the rest of your life.
- If you made friends while you were away, stay in touch with them! Perhaps they will have an occasion to visit you.
- Get to know other Misericordia University students who studied abroad and get together with them to share experiences. There is a new club on campus called the World Citizens' Club where students do just this so join!