Welcome Home Spring and Summer 2012 study-away students!
The Explorations office would like to welcome you home with a reception on September 6th from 4:30-6:30. The reception is a great time for you to share stories and photos, meet with other BW students that recently studied away, talk about re-adjustment issues, gather information from career services, and of course eat FREE Olive Garden. You don't want to miss this party! Be sure to check your email and RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org by August 30th!
Welcome home! Read on to learn how your recent experience away may affect your relationships with family and friends, home life, and your attitude about everything from the USA to your future goals and aspirations.
Reverse Culture Shock
Feelings of depression, reverse homesickness, restlessness, boredom, wanting to be alone, and/or negativity towards U.S. behaviors and customs upon arrive back to the United States are common for students retuning from a trip abroad, and is known as reverse culture shock. The following sections will help you identify and address any reverse culture shock you may be experiencing.
Readjusting to the "New" You
"My year abroad was a great adventure. It became a 24-hour-a-day obsession to take advantage of where I was, the time I had, and the people with whom I lived. I had never been so continuously stimulated intellectually and personally. It was a letdown to return home."
Personal growth, new insights into your own culture, connections with people overseas, a new understanding of the issues facing your changing world, and new language skills are just a few of the changes you may have noted after returning from your study abroad experience. You have become accustomed to a high level of activity or stimulation that your home and campus may not be able to match at first glance. As a result, you may feel restless or depressed after your return. In some cases, the academic experience overseas can provide a new perspective on your academic or career goals. As a result, you may question or change your own long-term goals.
Think through the many ways in which you have changed as a result of the overseas experience and write these impressions in a personal journal. You should find ways to incorporate your new interests and cross-cultural skills into your life through involvement with international groups, tutoring, or services in the community or on campus. You should also share what you have experienced with others who have studied or worked abroad. Keep in touch with others in your group!
Readjusting to Your Family & Friends
"I think that some people feel intimidated because they don't understand the experiences I've had. They don't know where I'm coming from and can't grasp how it would be to live somewhere else."
You have returned from an unusual social experience. You have adapted to a different way of life and may find it difficult to fit back into your former expected roles. As a returning student, you may want everyone to share in your new found knowledge and to adapt to new ways. You may also find little in common with longtime friends and find it difficult to communicate effectively, because friends and family have not shared your overseas experience. The people that knew you before the study abroad experience may also be unprepared for the changes in your values and lifestyle.
Friends and family can help you by listening to your stories, giving you the freedom to adjust at their own pace, encouraging you to share photographs, and discussing your feelings as you readjust to your home environment
Readjusting to Your Country
"I was so much more critical of things that are considered 'normal' in the U.S. once I had adapted to another culture that did things differently. When I was overseas, I ate differently, I looked at time differently, I socialized and studied differently. Once I arrived in America, I felt as though I really didn't have a 'home culture anymore."
You might have taken your country and your culture for granted before you went abroad. Then differences in beliefs, customs, resources, and values become apparent, and out of necessity you adjusted. Now that you have returned home, your new awareness may give you critical insights. You may unconsciously accept again the conveniences you missed while abroad, and, at the same time, you may be sharply critical of practices that you once took for granted. Your home culture, from social conditions to mass media, looks different to you now and you may be more critical. You might have the sense that you no longer fit in. Political changes, economic developments, and even fads in fashion and music that you may have missed make you feel like a stranger in your home country. You may even feel awkward speaking English again if you developed other language skills overseas.
If you miss the host culture, it can be helpful to get involved in international organizations, see a film in the language of the host culture, and keep up with the international news. Write to your friends overseas-and plan your next adventure.
Borrowed, with thanks, from the University of Minnesota's Global Campus