Returning Students

World Scholars: Returning Home and Culture Shock

Welcome back! We know that your journey abroad offered you new challenges and educational opportunities. Chances are, it was the experience of a lifetime! You may actually feel stronger and more competent, knowing that you faced all the challenges and overcame them, and in the process, learned a lot about yourself.

It's likely that you went through a period of adjustment when you first arrived abroad. You were immersed in a new culture, and had to learn how to deal with it. You tried new foods, handled new currencies, dealt with new customs and, hopefully, learned to make new friends.

Now that you are home, you may feel that you are a different person from the one you were before you left. You may look at things in a new light, comparing your experiences abroad to life back home, and you may have difficulty adjusting. Things that you took for granted before may stimulate you to make a critical re-assessment of your life here.

Most people experience some sort of re-entry shock. Getting back in the "swing of things" can be difficult. You may also find that people are much less interested in your experiences abroad than you had hoped they would be. Your slides and photographs and stories that you were so excited about sharing may not be as compelling to your family and friends back home. That's normal, too. You may feel that they "don't understand" or "don't really care" about your experiences abroad. Just remember that they didn't share your experience, and remember to take time to readjust to life back home.

If you think about the phenomenon of "re-entry culture shock" as part of the process of personal growth, you will overcome these hurdles too, and gain immense personal insight and strength in the process. The US State Department recognizes Reverse Culture Shock as a challenge and has some advice.

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