Study Abroad

Re-entry Adjustment

Welcome back!  After completing an enriching study abroad experience in another country, most students are excited to return home and share their experiences with friends and family.  Though returning to a familiar environment, some students have issues re-acclimating and may experience reverse culture shock.

How long and how strongly a student experiences reverse culture shock can depend on multiple factors, such as length of time away, previous travel abroad, and frequency of communication with people back home while abroad.  Students and parents alike should be prepared to for a re-acclimation period and should be patient with one another.  Reverse culture shock has three phases:

  • Honeymoon – During this phase you are excited to be at home and other people are happy to have you back.  Your friends and family are interested to hear about your time abroad and see your photos. 
  • Alienation – In this stage, you’ll feel that people would rather talk about what happened to them while you were away than listen to your stories.  You may start to feel bored because your familiar environment does not seem as exciting as your study abroad program was.  You may feel like a foreigner in your own home.  Your perspectives and interests have broadened and may be different than they used to be, and your lifestyle may have changed to accommodate those new perspectives. 
  • Gradual Readjustment – Gradually, you will readjust to being at home.  The shock of returning does dissipate with time and patience.

The best way to approach re-entry is to expect that there will be differences.  People, home or abroad, will have changed with time.  Part of the re-entry process will include finding a new lifestyle to combine the best of your old lifestyle and your new lifestyle. 

One way to ease through the re-entry process is to get engaged in international activities at Elon.  If you enjoyed your time abroad, consider participating in another study abroad program.  Use the skills and experiences gained during your time abroad to participate in other international opportunities post graduation.