For Returnees & Alumni
Welcome back! Congratulations on completing your study abroad program. We hope it was both challenging and rewarding for you, and we are confident it will be something that stays with you well into your future.
You might be thinking, “what now?” In this section, you will find information on re-entry and readjustment, how to market your experience, and ways to get and stay involved on campus with study abroad.
Returning and Readjusting
Just as you may have experienced some shock adjusting to your new environment abroad, it can sometimes be a shock to return home and find that, in addition to the changes you have experienced, your perceptions and relationships may be a bit different as well.
Many students have a bit of difficulty readjusting to life at home, particularly after a long-term study abroad experience. The common term for this is reverse culture shock, and there is a great deal of research which describes this phenomenon.
Some common feelings students report are:
- Changes in values, goals, priorities, and attitudes
- Feelings of isolation or depression
- Difficulty concentrating
- Reverse homesickness (missing people and places from abroad)
While these are common in returning Study Abroad students, it is important to understand that, just like with culture shock, reverse culture shock is not the same for everyone, and you may have your own unique set of feelings.
How do you cope with reverse culture shock? Oddly enough, a lot of the common coping methods are similar to those suggested for culture shock during your time abroad. Below are just a few ideas:
- Stay in touch with friends you met abroad
- Join clubs or organizations (or start one) on campus with an international focus
- Continue or begin studying a new language
- Stay connected to the experience through International Programs – Study Abroad, blogging, or making an album or scrapbook of photos from your time abroad, to name a few
- Stay motivated to travel and explore
- Make the effort to reconnect with your friends and family here as well as the Valpo campus and community
Even though your program may have ended, we hope you still consider the Office of Global Education a good resource for you throughout the rest of your college career. Feel free to reach out any time you have questions, concerns, need some support with re-entering and readjusting, or just want to talk about your experience. Remember, we’ve all studied abroad as well, so we are always happy to hear about experiences and share ours.
If your reverse culture shock symptoms are severe, or if you are in a crisis, please use the resources below:
- For a life-threatening emergency, please go to the emergency room or dial 911.
- For nonemergency services, consider using the University Counseling Center.
- To schedule an appointment, call 219.464.5002 or stop into their office during business hours (Monday – Friday 8 a.m. – noon; 1 p.m. – 5 p.m.).
- For general questions, you can also email firstname.lastname@example.org.