Returning to the US

“I don’t feel close to my friends anymore. I went through this
transformation and they stayed the same.”

 “I feel bored. I’m still bored. I was so happy, and then I had to go back to the mundane.”
“I wish I could go back and I’m sad because I can’t.”
“I don’t know what I’m doing with my life now.”

These are just a few of the things that we sometimes hear from students after they’ve returned from study abroad. After you have been abroad, you may find re-assimilating into American life to be unexpectedly challenging.  While abroad, you will establish a daily routine, make new friends, and grow accustomed to the scenery of your host location. And then, just as everything seems comfortable, you find yourself having to return to the U.S.  Not only will you miss your new friends and routine, but you will also have to catch up on what happened at home while you were away.  And because studying abroad changes your perspective on yourself and the world, you may begin to view characteristics of American life and culture, including your lifestyle and relationships, in a different way. This is known as "Reverse Culture Shock". The UFIC has a number of resources available for you upon re-entry from study abroad.

What Happen During Re-Entry

In the early stages of re-entry, you may experience the following:

  • missing your host country, especially the friends and “family” you adopted during your time away
  • sense of alienation or withdrawal as you reflect on how you or others seem different
  • possible rejection of American cultural values which are inconsistent with those of your host country—particularly if your time abroad was stimulating and positive
  • contention with friends and family about perspectives and values
  • impression that others, particularly those who have not been abroad, lack global perspectives, important knowledge, cooperative strategies and effective communication skills

Adjusting to Life Back Home

A period of adjustment is normal following time spent abroad.  Here are some tips for navigating your transition back home:

  • share your experiences and reactions with family and friends
  • interact with other returning students and students who have studied abroad—they may be able to share ideas for improving your adjustment
  • communicate with your friends in the host country
  • keep in perspective the differences between both places—and maintain a sense of humor
  • get involved by mentoring other students who are considering studying abroad
  • take advantage of UFIC re-entry programs and resources