When Your Student Returns
Returning home after completing a global education experience can sometimes feel like as much of an adjustment as going abroad. Here are some resources to help you understand how to help your student settle back in to life after his/her study abroad experience:
Getting Settled — Supporting Reverse Culture Shock
Just as your student may have experienced a period of cultural adjustment at the start of their study abroad experience, upon return it is extremely likely that they will experience challenges in re-adapting to life in the United States. Many students find that exposure to new cultures and different worldviews causes them to reexamine their priorities and values, as well as those of their home culture. This shift in perspective can lead to a feeling of psychological discomfort known as “reverse culture shock,” which occurs when a student returns to their home country.
Upon returning home, many students may expect to be able to pick up exactly where they left off, and are unsure how to react when returning home feels foreign. This inconsistency between expectations and reality can cause students to experience feelings of frustration, anger, alienation, loneliness, disorientation or helplessness. The degree of difficulty of readjustment will vary from individual to individual, but – in general – the better integrated a student became to their host country’s culture and lifestyle, the harder it is to readjust during re-entry.
It is important to understand that it is completely normal for your student to experience some degree of difficulty adjusting to life back home. Eventually your student will adjust and things will start to seem normal again. The key to helping your student overcoming reverse culture shock is to understand that it is a phase that many students experience, and that they will re-adjust to life back home! One way to ease the transition from life abroad to life back home is by encouraging your student to incorporate the positive aspects of their international experience with the positive aspects of their life in the United States or home country to build on their international experience.
Help Your Student Build on Their International Experience
After participating in a global education program, there are many ways your student can build on their international experience. Please encourage your student to take advantage of these opportunities; here are a few suggestions from the Center for Global Education:
- Represent their host institution at the Education Abroad fair, held annually in early September, and share their experiences with students who are interested in participating in similar programs.
- Get involved with an internationally-focused or multicultural organization on campus. Marymount has plenty of student-run organizations that have a global focus and will help your student maintain a connection to their experiences from abroad.
- Enter the Center for Global Education Photo Contest, held each semester, and showcase memories from their international experience for all to see!
- Share their experiences at the pre-departure sessions held for students preparing to go abroad, and help future Marymount students have a similarly rewarding study abroad experience.
- Apply to be a Global Ambassador and help promote global education experiences to other students on campus.
- Stop by the Center for Global Education and to share their experiences with us. We are always excited to hear their stories and see pictures from their experience abroad!
- Begin thinking about their next international experience – explore opportunities to study, volunteer, intern, work or travel abroad; check out graduate school programs abroad or with a global focus; or research programs that provide opportunities for recent graduates to serve as ambassadors abroad, such as Fulbright, Peace Corps or Rotary International programs.