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Study Abroad - Health & Safety

After You Return

Culture Shock and Reintegration  

It is possible to experience a culture shock once you return to the United States. Often students imagine re-entering their home in an ideal version, but in reality the student has changed, as well as possible changes at home. The severity of culture shock may vary depending on length of time abroad and how integrated you became in your host country. Upon returning, you may feel your friends and family lack interest in your stories and experiences, resulting in frustration, feelings of alienation, and loneliness.

 

Four stages encompass culture shock and the recovery of it.

  • Stage 1 Begins before leaving your host country. As you prepare to leave, feelings of frustration and sadness intensify. You may be reluctant to return home and leave your new friends.
  • Stage 2 You’ll feel excited to be heading back to the comfort of your home. You are excited to share many stories of your time abroad, yet you begin to notice people aren’t as interested in hearing them.
  • Stage 3 At this point, you begin to transition into Stage 3, where you may experience emotions of frustration, helplessness, and depression. You may even become critical of the U.S. culture and long for your host culture.
  • Stage 4 As you readjust, you move to Stage 4. Things become more normal again, though you probably never fall completely into the way things once were. You have grown from your time abroad, and it is important to integrate those experiences with the experiences at home.

 

Below we have suggestions for you to readjust to your home.

  • Share your experiences with your Study Abroad Coordinator! The staff in the UNF International Center loves hearing about your adventures and learning about your time abroad.
  • Incorporate what you learned abroad into your home life. You may not see how you can still practice your linguistic skills or cultural competency now that you are home. Be creative in exploring cultural opportunities here that expand what you learned abroad.
  • Find a cultural outlet in your hometown, or try a new hobby in the area. For instance, if you learned that you enjoy trying new foods, explore the various cuisine available to you in your town!
  • Keep in contact with those you met while abroad. Whether it be a new international friend you made or another student studying abroad, you can continue those relationships and practice the skills you made.
  • Be aware of how studying abroad personally changed you and how others are perceiving those changes. Your constant references to your trip may come across as arrogance or rejection of your home culture. As you share your experiences and create alterations in your behavior, make a mental note of how it influences those around you.