Reentry Challenges and Reverse Culture Shock

Returnee Events & Activities


Welcome Back Dinner (September & February)
Global Images Photo Contest
 (September)
Other Ways to Keep Your Experience Alive
 On Campus

Contact Off-Campus Study to find out how you can contribute!

 
More Reentry Resources

As you return from study abroad, we hope you will enjoy this humorous piece written by a Glipmse intern about what NOT to do when returning from abroad.

We also want to share some tips on what TO DO to celebrate your abroad experience and address any reverse culture shock you may be feeling.

Reentry and reverse culture shock
Understanding that you will likely face some culture shock, reentry and reverse culture shock frustrations when you return is important; and even more important is to know that you are not alone in these feelings. These feelings are often more difficult because they are unexpected.

Top Ten Reentry Frustrations

  1. Feelings of alienation; seeing home with critical eyes
  2. Fear of losing the experience and new perspective, like storing it away in a souvenir box that we only occasionally look at
  3. Inability to apply new knowledge and skills
  4. "No one wants to hear about this"
  5. It's hard to explain
  6. Reverse homesickness
  7. Previous relationships have changed
  8. People see the "wrong" changes
  9. People misunderstand if I adopt elements of my host culture; they misinterpret my behavior
  10. Boredom

Do you find that you:

  • Can't fully explain your experience or its importance 
  • Realize that others do not want to hear very much about your adventures  
  • Have the sensation of being "out of place" despite being home  
  • Are bored with being home  
  • Experience "reverse homesickness" for the place where you studied abroad  
  • See that relationships with family and friends have changed  
  • Feel that others misunderstand your growth, or see the "wrong" changes in you  
  • Assess your home in a way that is judgmental or overly critical  
  • Feel that your experience abroad is lost or cut off from the rest of your life

Understanding what kind of frustrations you might face upon re‐entry into your home country is important; and even more important is to know that you are not alone in these feelings.

Upon your return to campus, we encourage you to share your experiences and reach out to fiends, family and on-campus resources which can help.
 

On-campus resources
Here are a few ideas and some resources to help you make the most of your abroad experience and deal with some of your re-entry challenges.

  • Contact the Colby counseling center
  • Come talk to OCS staff – we love to hear about your experiences!
  • Reach out to DOS or Campus Life
  • Watch the Journeying Home video (available in OCS and the library) , or better yet, organize a group viewing and discussion in your dorm
  • Submit your photos to Colby’s photo Contest
  • Organize a photo exhibit
  • Consider sharing your study abroad impressions with the general public through Abroad View – Webzine, TransistionsAbroad.com, Glimpse – Your stories from abroad website.
  • Visit the Career Services office to discuss with a counselor how you can “use” your experience in your career search or prepare to go abroad again. Check out our web page that lists various organizations which sponsor work, volunteer, and teaching opportunities abroad.


Other Resources

Videos

Journeying Home (available from OCS and the Miller Library)

Discussion questions for Journeying Home

Student videos on reverse culture shock and re-entry

Handouts

Coming Home resource packet
Re-entry Strategies (SIT)

Surviving Reentry: A handbook for parents of study abroad students returning home (SIT)


Reflections

There is No Substitute for Basil: A Re-entry Reflection


Writing about your experiences:

Abroad View

TransitionsAbroad

Glimpse.org


Books

Austin, Clyde.  Cross-Cultural Re-entry:  A Book of Readings. Abilene, Texas:  Abilene Christian University Press, 1986.

Bruce, A.  Culture Shock at Home:  Understanding Your Own Change - The Experience of  Return.  Transitions Abroad.  January/February, 1997, p. 79-80 (http://www.transabroad.com).

Chisholm, Linda A. and Howard A. Berry. 2002. “Understanding the Education – and through it the Culture – in Education Abroad”. New York, NY. The International Partnership for Service-Learning.

Citron, James.  Short-Term Study Abroad:  Integration, Third Culture Formation, and Reentry.  NAFSA: Association of International Educators (http://www.nafsa.org).

Hess, J. Daniel.  Studying Abroad/Learning Abroad: An Abridged Edition of the Whole World Guide to Culture Learning.  Yarmouth, Maine: Intercultural Press, 1997.  

Hogan, John T.  Culture-Shock and Reverse-Culture Shock: Implications for Juniors Abroad and Seniors at Home.  Paper presented at the Annual Convention of the American College Personnel Association (Houston, TX, March 13-16, 1983).

Howell, Leah.  Coming Home:  Sustaining the Experiences of Studying Abroad.  The Vermont Connection. 1999.  

Kauffman, Norman L., Martin, Judith N., and Weaver, Henry D.  Students Abroad:  Strangers at Home.  Yarmouth, Maine: Intercultural Press, 1992.  

Kepets, Dawn.  Back in the USA:  Reflecting on Your Study Abroad Experience and Putting it to Work.  NAFSA: Association of International Educators, 1995 (http://www.nafsa.org).

Kohls, L. Robert.  Survival Kit for Overseas Living.  Yarmouth, Maine: Intercultural Press, 1996.  

Martin, Judith N.  Patterns of Communication in Three Types of Reentry Relationships: An Exploratory Study.  Western Journal of Speech Communication. v50 n2 Spring 1986, p.183-99. 

Paige, R. Michael, Andrew D. Cohen, Barbara Kappler, Julie C. Chi and James P. Lassegard.  Maximizing Study Abroad: A Student's Guide to Strategies for Language and Culture Learning and Use. Minneapolis, Minnesota: University of Minnesota, 2002.  

Raschio, R.A.  College Students' Perceptions of Reverse Culture Shock and Reentry Adjustments.  Journal of College Student Development. 1987, p. 156-162.  

Storti, Craig.  The Art of Coming Home.  Yarmouth, Maine: Intercultural Press, 1997.

Storti, Craig.  The Art of Crossing Cultures.  Yarmouth, Maine: Intercultural Press, 1990.  

Summerfield, Ellen. Survival Kit for Multicultural Living. Yarmouth, Maine: Intercultural Press, 1997.

Uchara, A.  The Nature of American Student Reentry Adjustment and Perception of the Sojourn Experience.  International Journal of Intercultural Relations.  10, 1986, p. 415-438.

Woody, Stacey.  Programming for Reentry:  Issues and Solutions for Study Abroad Returnees.  Transitions Abroad.  Mar/Apr 1998, p. 107-108 (http://www.transabroad.com).