Life After Study Abroad

Welcome Back!

Now that you're back, you can probably say studying abroad and doing ministry and life overseas has been one of the most challenging yet rewarding of your life experiences thus far, and something that has forever changed your view of the world. It is vital that you seize opportunities to use this experience in your life at home, both to make the most of your own experience and to share insights with others in order to continue the positive cycle of change. We hope we are able to help you draw upon this.

 

Returning home and re-acclimating to your native culture is often not an easy transition. It is often difficult to fully realize the impact of your experience until you return home, and you may be surprised at how integrated into your new culture you became. Upon returning home, it is normal to become frustrated or annoyed by some aspects of your home community. Although reverse cultural adjustment is generally overcome much more quickly, it can be just as intense as your initial cultural adjustment and in many ways you may find yourself grieving for your life abroad. Fortunately, there are many things that you can do to ease the transition of re-entry. The key is to achieve an ideal balance of reconnecting with your life back at home while at the same time staying in touch with your experiences abroad.

 

Life After Study Abroad

ISA has created a Re-Entry Guide, covering topics such as...

  • Sharing your study abroad story
  • Dealing with the dreaded REVERSE CULTURE SHOCK
  • Getting back abroad!
  • Insights from ISA alumni on how they dealt with the re-entry process

To access the Re-Entry Guide, please log in to your Student Portal, then click "Alumni Resources."

 

Signs of Reverse Culture Shock

Your reactions to re-entry will vary, and may include one or more of the following:

  • Restlessness
  • Depression
  • Reverse homesickness: Missing the people, places, attitudes or lifestyle of your host country
  • Changes in goals and priorities
  • Confusion
  • Isolation: Wanting to be alone
  • Negativity or intolerance towards your home country including behavior, attitudes, customs, and common social practice

Regardless of how much time you spent abroad, you will experience differences in yourself, your family and friends, and your surroundings upon your return home. At times, you may feel that no one understands how you've changed, and it may be difficult for you to realize that life has not only changed for you but also for your friends and family. These realities can make you feel a little out of place at home. In fact, you may sometimes even feel like a stranger in a familiar land. This uncomfortable transition period is characterized as re-entry adjustment.

 

Tips for Coping with Re-entry

  • Be prayerful about your return and know that God has placed you where you are for a reason.  Seek out your mentor or organization leader and ask him or her to be praying for and with you about your return.  You're able to share with others and get them excited about international missions now.  After seeing God in a bigger way abroad, it may have stretched your idea of how big God really is.
  • Continue writing in the journal that you used abroad, or purchase one if you have not yet done so and write down your favorite memories. This will keep your experience fresh in your mind while maintaining perspective. Remember that life is a continual learning experience abroad and at home.
  • Know that you're not alone in your feelings. Most alumni experience the discomforts of re-entry, although degrees of severity differ greatly. Usually, readjustment to life at home is most difficult for those who were most immersed in the host culture.
  • Learn to share your experience in small doses and don't forget to ask friends and family about their lives while you were away. Keep in mind that others have had valuable growing experiences at home during your absence, and they will be excited to share these with you. Talk with them about what has changed and let them know you are interested in their lives.
  • Seek out other ISA Veritas alumni and encourage your peers to think about embarking on an ISA Veritas adventure. Relaying your experience to others will be valuable to both parties!
  • If you are a student, become involved with international students on campus and assist with pre-departure orientations and study abroad or service-learning fairs for future students.
  • Go to an elementary, middle, or high school language class and do a presentation about your time abroad.
  • Stay in touch with the people you met on your ISA Veritas program. Your best link to the experience can be just an email or a phone or video call away.
  • Join the ISA/Veritas Global Ambassador Program to share your story and help others accomplish their own on your campus!