“The experience has not ended here, but only served as a starting point.” For those who take the challenge to study abroad, the transition back to life at home is full of exciting possibilities.
RETURNING HOME AND REVERSE CULTURE SHOCK
After spending a significant time abroad, returning home can be a difficult and challenging period of transition.
At GEO, we recognize that transitioning back home can be an emotional process. Take the time to examine your feelings, experiences, and time spent with others and how they may shape your future.
The Art of Coming Home by Craig Storti is a great reading that addresses many issues of reverse culture shock, coping strategies and ways to readjust to life after living abroad.
Here are some additional readings and resources we hope you might find useful:
- Anjarwalla, Tas. “Dealing with reverse culture shock.” CNN. http://www.cnn.com/2010/TRAVEL/08/24/cultural.reentry/index.html?_s=PM:TRAVEL
- Citron and Mendelson. “Relationships Roots and Unpacking.” Transition Abroad Magazine. http://www.transitionsabroad.com/publications/magazine/0507/coming_home_from_study_abroad.shtml
- Fischer, Jake. “Re-Entry: Returning Home from Study Abroad.” Huffington Post. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jake-fischer/reentry-returning-home-fr_b_2263671.html
- By R. Michael Paige, Andrew D. Cohen, Barbara Kappler Mikk, Julie C. Chi, & James P. Lassegard. “Maximizing Study Abroad: Strategies for Language and Culture Learning and Use.” http://www.carla.umn.edu/maxsa/guides.html
- La Brack, Bruce. University of the Pacific. “The Top Ten Immediate Reentry Challenges”
INTEGRATING YOUR EXPERIENCE INTO YOUR DAILY LIFE
It is now up to you to figure out what to do with the vast knowledge and experience you acquired abroad. The challenge before you is now to make the most of it. Here are some suggestions to help get you started:
- Continue to document your journey in a blog or journal
- Join an internationally focused student club at your university
- Subscribe to international news media
- Find ways to incorporate some of the activities you did, foods you ate, music you listened to, etc.
- Take an international relations, world history, cultural/ethnic studies, language or sociology class
- Stay connected to your experience by reading your journal or watching movies from your host country
- Continue to study a new language
- Find native speakers in your community
- Join a language club
- Volunteer with an international organization
- Continue conversing with your new friends abroad
- Host an international dinner party
- Get your experience published
- Transitions Abroad Travel Writing Contest: http://www.transitionsabroad.com/information/writers/student.shtml
- GoAbroad.com http://www.goabroad.com/blog/write-for-us/
- Life After Study Abroad: http://www.lifeafterstudyabroad.com/write-for-us/
- Contact your local community and campus newspaper/blog sites
GEO ALUMNI OPPORTUNITIES
There are several ways you can get involved as a GEO Alumnus/a. As we continue to grow our alumni network, it's important that you keep in touch with GEO and let us know what you are up to and how you would like to get involved. Whether you are returning to school to finish up your degree or if you have graduated, we've got something for you. We publish a quarterly newsletter featuring program highlights, alumni stories and upcoming events. GEO’s alumni network is vast and spans the globe, and we want to hear from you.
1. GEO Alumni Events
Throughout the year, GEO holds alumni events, often when GEO site directors are in town. All GEO Alumni are welcome to join. To learn about upcoming events contact us and check our website for updates.
2. Northwest Returnee Conference
Held in winter or early spring each year, the NW Returnee Conference is a great opportunity for GEO Alumni to participate in professional development workshops, meet returnees from all over the U.S. and learn about ways to return abroad. GEO is a founding member of the NW Returnee Conference, now in its seventh year. The conference is open to all study abroad returnees. To learn more about the conference click here.
3. For University of Oregon Students
There are plenty of ways to stay engaged with GEO and study abroad alumni. As you plan your return home, think of the following opportunities:
- Check your email for announcements on reentry programs.
- International Peer Assistants – Want to promote study abroad on the UO campus, coordinate the study abroad fair, help with orientations and more? Applications are posted and due in mid-spring term every year. Contact Elizabeth Douherty or 541-346-3207 for more information.
- Did you complete a research or creative project abroad? If so, participate in the Undergraduate Research Symposium in May: http://undergradsymposium.uoregon.edu
- International Coffee Hour — Every Friday at 4:00 p.m. during fall, winter and spring terms, in the Mills International Center in the EMU.
- Tutoring English or a Foreign Language — The American English Institute (AEI), located on the UO campus, hires native speakers of English to tutor international students. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-346-6115 for more information.
- International Student Orientation (ISO) and Hospitality Table — Help orient newly arriving international students each term. Contact email@example.com for more information.
We also encourage you to join the UO Yamada Language Center’s Foreign Language Exchange program - an online database that serves as a way for language-learning students to give and/or receive help. Study abroad returnees can highly benefit from FLX and it is a fun, collaborative, and independent way to practice a language!
How it works: Visit the Foreign Language Exchange program site at babel.uoregon.edu. Click on Language Exchange under the Language Programs menu. Create a profile for other YLC FLX participants to view. Then feel free to browse others’ profiles and send someone a message if they meet your language needs.
GOING ABROAD AGAIN
Did you catch the travel bug while you were abroad? There are quite a few possibilities to explore that will get you out the door again -- check out this infographic to see what we mean.