Returning Home & Reverse Culture Shock

Reverse Culture Shock

Reverse culture shock is a reaction to returning home from studying abroad. Similar to your initial adjustment to living abroad, you may experience a similar reaction when re-adjusting to life at home. Often times, the effects are even stronger than culture shock because reverse culture shock is unexpected.

Culture shock is the expected confrontation with the unfamiliar; re-entry shock is the unexpected confrontation with the familiar. – R. Michael Page, co-author of Maximizing Study Abroad

Returning Home

Although coming home can be difficult, it can also be an opportunity to learn about yourself! The process of returning home is a powerful experience with the potential to allow for personal growth, to provide mobility for civic engagement, to enhance skills for your professional life, and the ability to further your knowledge about the world and your place within it.

Here are some common challenges of reverse culture shock and examples of how to make these challenges benefit you academically, personally, and professionally. 

Challenge What you can do

“My friends and family only want to hear one or two sentences about my experience abroad. I have so much more to say though.”

It can be hard for someone who has never studied abroad to understand your experiences. Find new ways to share your photos and stories!

  • Share your experiences with other returned students and learn ways to incorporate your time abroad into your resume or a job interview at the Returned Student Social
  • Share your experience through a Digital Story (coming soon)
  • Share your experiences through a blog, possibly through the Learning Abroad Virtual Community
  • Write down your thoughts, experiences, and memories. This can help you process your thoughts if you cannot talk about them.
  • Schedule an appointment with the University Counseling Center to talk about the difficulties you are having

“My career or academic goals have completely changed or I am second guessing my original plans.”

It is common to discover new interests and passions! You can pursue these new interests in many ways:

  • Seek out advice from your Academic Advisor
  • Consider declaring a second major or minor and schedule an appointment to speak with an Academic Advisor in that department
  • Meet with your Counselor in Career Services to talk about careers that might combine your new interests and declared major
  • Consider applying for a second study abroad or a global internship centered on this new interest

“I feel like I had to leave behind a new side of my life. I feel disconnected to the international community I became a part of.”

Look for opportunities to engage with internationally minded groups on campus and in your community.

  • Join a student club with an international focus!
  • Seek out volunteer activities in your community with internationally minded organizations (coming soon)
  • Volunteer through Learning Abroad to work with international exchange students