Once you have studied abroad, you may find re-assimilating to American life unexpectedly challenging. While abroad you will establish a daily routine, make new friends, and grow accustomed to the cultural norms of your host country. Then, just as you are getting used to your new lifestyle, it’s time to return to the U.S. Back here you will not only will you miss your new friends and routine, but you will also have to catch up on what happened while you were away. Because studying abroad changes your perspective on yourself and the world, you may begin to view characteristics of American culture – as well as your own lifestyle and relationships - in a different way. This is process is known as Reverse Culture Shock.
Reverse Culture Shock
In the first few weeks after returning home, you may experience the following:
- Missing your host country, especially your new friends and host family
- Feeling alienated or withdrawn as you reflect on how you or others now seem different
- Criticizing American cultural values and norms
- Being confrontational with family and friends about their values and perspectives
- Feeling like others, particularly those who have not been abroad, lack global perspectives and effective communication skills
Adjusting to Life Back Home
So, how do you adjust to your life back home now that you’ve had this experience abroad and are starting to see your previous lifestyle differently? Here are some tips for navigating the transition:
- Share your experiences and feelings with family and friends
- Interact with other students who have studied abroad (such as our SAPAs) – they will not only be able to relate, but may also share ideas for improving your adjustment
- Continue to communicate with the friends you made while abroad
- Keep in perspective the differences between the U.S. and your host country
- Read articles like this one from GoOverseas and this one from ISEP to learn about the stages of Reverse Culture Shock and how to successfully move through them
- Get involved in the UF community by encouraging other students to study abroad
There are many resources available both on and off campus to help you process your study abroad experience. International Center events, student organizations, and other UF departments can help you connect with others, process your feelings, and integrate study abroad into your future career.
- Join our team of Study Abroad Peer Advisors to mentor prospective study abroad students and help at UFIC events like the Study Abroad Fair
- Join UF NaviGators International to connect with incoming international students and other U.S. students with similar interests
- Join the International Scholars Program to pair your study abroad experience with international coursework and events and earn a medallion for graduation
- Speak with the UF Counseling & Wellness Center if you’re experiencing frustration, sadness, or anxiety upon returning home and want to discuss these feelings
- Speak with the UF Career Connections Center to learn how to incorporate your experiences abroad into your resume, cover letter, or in an interview
- Share your photos with us for a chance to be featured on our social media
- Submit your photos to the UFIC Global Photo Contest
- Join UFIC for our ‘Unpacking Your Experience’ event, held each semester for returning students to connect with each other, share experiences, and learn how to stay involved in the international community
Going Abroad Again
Chances are that after your study abroad experience, you’ve got the travel bug. Looking for ways to get abroad again post-graduation? See below for a few well-known international opportunities. You can also reach out to the Career Connections Center to ask about access to GoinGlobal – an online resource which provides detailed country career guides and international job and internship listings.
- Peace Corps - The Peace Corps is a service opportunity for motivated change makers to immerse themselves in a community abroad, working side by side with local leaders to tackle the most pressing challenges of our generation. The Peace Corps Mission is to promote world peace and friendship. To learn more, contact UFIC Peace Corps recruiter at firstname.lastname@example.org or learn more here.
- Fulbright - The Fulbright U.S. Student Program is the largest U.S. exchange program offering opportunities for students and young professionals to undertake international graduate study, advanced research, university teaching, and primary and secondary school teaching worldwide. The program currently awards approximately 2,000 grants annually in all fields of study, and operates in more than 140 countries worldwide.
- BUNAC - BUNAC has been enabling life-changing working adventures worldwide since 1962. Whether it's a two year working holiday, a six month internship abroad, or a six week volunteer expedition, there's no country too far or duration too short for them to help you live out your travel dreams.
- JET - The JET Program is a competitive employment opportunity that allows young professionals to live and work in cities, towns, and villages throughout Japan. Being a JET is an opportunity to work and to represent the United States as cultural ambassadors to Japan. Most participants serve as Assistant Language Teachers (ALTs) and work in public and private schools throughout Japan; some work as Coordinators for International Relations (CIRs) as interpreters/translators.
- EPIK - EPIK was established in 1995 and is affiliated with the Korean Ministry of Education. Since its inception, EPIK has had the goals of improving the English-speaking abilities of Korean students and teachers, developing cultural exchange between Korea and abroad, and of introducing new teaching methods into the Korean education system.
- WWOOF - Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) is part of a worldwide movement linking visitors with organic farmers and growers to promote cultural and educational experiences based on trust and non-monetary exchange, thereby helping to build a sustainable global community.