Despite the homesickness some exchange students experience while abroad, many find it even more difficult adjusting to their “real” life at home. It means back to work, responsibilities, and serious studying. The excitement of reuniting with family and friends from home coincides with missing new friends from around the world.
After a few days at home on my return from a Study Abroad semester, I soon began to miss the freedom and stimulation of new surroundings. I missed going out with a group of friends at night. I missed that cheap, authentic restaurant around the corner. Life at home lacked the spice of freedom and adventure.
Reverse culture shock is the re-entry into one own culture and home community after being away for a significant period of time. Sometimes, it becomes hard to relate to those you grew up with, since you have changed over the course of your journey and others haven’t.
Below are some tips that can help make for a smoother transition back to home.
Before you leave:
- Check with host and home institutions to ensure you complete any necessary paperwork for transfer credit
- Did you participate in any volunteer or specialized extracurricular activities? Gather certificates and ask for recommendation letters.
- Take photos of places and people from your everyday life.
- Do last minute shopping – postcards, gifts, souvenirs.
- Get contact information from friends: emails, mailing addresses, Skype usernames, etc.
- Is there someone you know you are going to miss the most? Tell them.
Back at home:
- Reconnect with your home university.
- Get involved on campus. Connect with other students getting back from a Study Abroad experience. Meet international and exchange students to continue making friends and expanding your horizons.
- Make the most of your life at home. Try something new in your own backyard.
- Talk about your experience. Submit a blog post and share your story!
If you have more advice to add about ways to deal with reverse culture shock, leave a comment below.