Typical Problems and Tips



The main word to describe what students may feel upon returning home is alienation.

The life students knew while they were away has changed. Things have happened while they were gone and this may make students feel alone. Also, stories and pictures rarely convey how much of an impact the study abroad experience can have. If students have difficulty making others understand their experience they may get frustrated. The alienation experienced after returning home can surface in a variety of ways.


-Home life can seem much less exciting upon returning. Students may feel a sense of frustration or disappointment. Students go from a long term period of newness and excitement to the monotony of the life that they were familiar with.

-Students may feel that they have lost their uniqueness they identified with by being Americans abroad. While studying elsewhere students were special and possibly received extra attention. It requires adjustment to be comfortable with being ordinary again.

-Family and friends of a student who studied abroad may get bored with too many stories of the student’s experience. The student may feel like sharing information much more frequently than other people are interested in hearing what they have to say.

-Students experience a freedom unlike anything else during a study abroad experience and that feeling can lead to a long period of happiness while abroad. Students who return home may feel a longing for those feelings of happiness that were so strong while abroad.

Suggestions to help students:
There are certain things students can do before and after returning home to help ease the transition process and reduce re-entry anxiety. It is important to find a balance between healthy connections with home and habits that may hinder the study abroad experience. These suggestions should be used in moderation and should not take over the time that a student spends abroad. These are adapted from a manual published by the University of Florida

Tips for before returning home:

- Have issues of student’s home or college newspaper sent during the study abroad program. If students stay updated with big occurrences at home, adjustment may be easier.

- Students should maintain some kind of journal or scrapbook during their study abroad term. This will help students remember their experiences and be more capable to share stories with family and friends.

Tips for after returning home:

- Keeping a journal

- Find a way to stay connected with the study abroad experience. Some students will choose to volunteer with the international center at their school or with the organization in charge of their study abroad program. Helping other students looking to do a similar program is a great way to stay connected with your experience.

Initial return home can be stressful and depressing. Most students adjust back to their home life and return culture shock transforms into an increased perspective on what the study abroad experience offered. A healthy transition is defined by a student being able to incorporate what was learned during a study abroad program into home life and moving forward with new experiences.


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