Study Abroad & Exchange

Re-Entry Shock

Many believe coming home should be easy.  After all, you are back in a familiar land and seeing your family and old friends. You missed it all so much while you were away, and now here it is. You are home… or are you?

You may discover, like so many others, that coming home is not as easy as it sounds. While you were away learning about the world, traveling, meeting new people, speaking new languages, broadening your horizons, everyone else was here, living the same routine they lived before.

You just had one of the most exciting and exhilarating times of your life, and when talking with friends and family, you will find they want you to summarize it up in 5 minutes (or less).  Two rolls of film later (and 30 more to go), their eyes will soon glaze over.

When with your friends, you may find yourself wanting to talk about politics, futbol (“the real kind”), and tell travel stories.  Your friends, on the other hand, may prefer talking about the latest celebrity gossip.

These are a few symptoms of what is called Reverse Culture Shock (Re-Entry Shock). Be prepared… You will begin feeling the effects of it soon...if you haven’t already.

Top Challenges

Below are some of the top challenges students face when coming home:

  • Boredom

  • Nobody wants to hear about our experiences

  • It's hard to explain

  • Relationships have changed

  • Feelings of alienation; seeing home with critical eyes

  • Fear of losing the experience, like storing it away in a souvenir box that we only occasionally look at

  • Fear of losing the new friends we have made overseas

These feelings are all normal and most students have reported feeling them. This is because you’ve changed in both tiny and tremendous ways, and you likely have gained a new (refreshed) outlook on life.

It is important to react to these adjustments much like you did while you were abroad. Keep your sense of humor in tact, stay open-minded and flexible, and remember to take care of yourself. Just as with all growing pains, you will survive this adjustment period, and will be better for it.

Articles You May Appreciate

Coming Home: Relationships, Roots and Unpacking

5 Articles to Help with Returing from Study Abroad

When all else fails, come into the Study Abroad Office (SSC 440). We've all been there, and we can empathize.