Transitioning Back to UST
Although most students do not expect it, the culture shock of returning home after a semester or year abroad can oftentimes be more challenging than the culture shock experienced when first arriving at your program site. The study abroad experience can be very intense, exciting and life-changing. Returning home, reconnecting with friends, and adjusting to life in the United States (where everything can seem a little boring) can be surprisingly challenging.
Are you experiencing unusual emotions? Are you bored? Do you miss your host country and homestay family? Do you feel misunderstood? Are you goals different?
Coming back home is an adjustment. You're most likely going through some reverse culture shock. Things that interested you before may seem boring and you may feel reverse homesickness, which is when you miss your host culture and the friends that you made. You are not alone; most people who immerse themselves in a different culture feel the same way. Remember how you felt when you first moved to your host country. The coping strategies that you used there will be useful in the move back to the U.S.
Studying abroad brings about new perspectives and growth in a person. You may find that you are interested in new things. Getting involved is another great way to readjust yourself to being back on campus. St. Thomas has an array of clubs for every interest level.
A full list of UST clubs and organizations can be found at http://www.stthomas.edu/ustclubs/default.html. But, a few of the internationally focused clubs are:
- Globally Minded Student Association (GMSA)
- Hispanic African Native American Asian (HANA)
- African Nations Student Association (ANSA)
- Amnesty International
- Club de Español, French Club, German Club, Japanese Club
- Eastern European Club
- Foreign Affairs
- Council on Mid-Eastern Studies
- Irish Society
- Saudi Club
Other ways of Getting Involved On-Campus
- "Intercambios" – Language Partners. Practice your second language by spending time with an international student. Contact ELS at 651.962.5990
- Student Employment at International Education Center, International Recruiting and Admissions, or International Student Services.
- Attend the Minnesota Study Abroad Re-Entry Conference-- a conference designed to assist study abroad returnees with their adjustment back to life in the United States.
- Get paid to help at our Study Abroad Orientation in November and April. Your insights, stories and advice are invaluable to students preparing to go abroad and most appreciated by the IEC staff. This is a fun way to put your experience to use and get paid for doing it. By attending a short training and both orientations students will receive a $100 stipend. Each fall, the IEC will contact returnees and encourage them to apply to be an orientation leader. Feel free to contact us beforehand at email@example.com if you are interested.
- Volunteers in Action (VIA) – a service organization on campus that serves the people of the Twin Cities Metro Area.
- VISION coordinates volunteer service immersion trips in the U.S. and abroad, and provides information to students interested in full time volunteer opportunities. Contact Campus Ministry for more information. 651.962.6752
- Center for Intercultural Learning and Community Engagement (CILCE) can connect you to volunteer opportunities around the Twin Cities.
- Register for a class with a Service-Learning component. Many classes on campus incorporate service-learning as part of the course. Through service-learning, students work with different organizations and populations within the Twin Cities.
- Attend the International Dinner held in April by International Student Services. It's a great way to try new food from around the world and meet new students.
Use these tips/websites to re-acclimate yourself to your life in the U.S.
- What's Up with Culture: On-line Cultural Training Resource for Study Abroad
- World Learning: After Study Abroad, a Toolkit for Returning Students
- Explore home! Things have changed in your time abroad. Go to some tourist attractions here that you have not seen or have not been to in a while.
- Rotary International
- Volunteer in the language of your host country by reading books to kids or helping international students with their English
- Get involved with The Minnesota International Center, an organization that hosts a variety of internationally focused events and programs
- Share your experiences from abroad and feelings from being home with your friends and family
- Stay connected with your host culture and friends that you met
- Submit your original writing in the writing contests through Transitions Abroad or Abroad View.
- Read the newspapers from your host country and keep updated with social issues
Remember, change is a positive thing. You have new ideas and outlooks that will help give you a better sense of yourself, your surroundings and the world. Now try to incorporate your new perspectives into your life in America and on campus. Your study abroad experience does not have to be your only international experience. Instead it is the start of a lifetime of international experiences.