Post-Study Abroad Challenges

By Ashley Paskill on January 1, 2019

Studying abroad is a bucket-list item for many college students. Being able to earn college credits while immersing yourself in a culture you have always dreamed of experiencing is a huge deal and a highlight of many students’ college careers. While the experience is amazing and the memories will last forever, returning home after such a powerful and incredible semester can be challenging. Many students face challenges when readjusting to their home life. Knowing what to expect can help you be on the lookout for issues you face and will help you take steps to manage the challenges that you face upon returning home.

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Image: Ibrahim Rifath via https://unsplash.com/photos/Y6tBl0pTe-g

Reverse Culture Shock

If you studied abroad for a whole semester, you most likely got acclimated to a new culture. While it took time, once you learned the ins and outs, you fell in love with your country where you studied. Returning home can give you reverse culture shock. Reverse culture shock is difficult to deal with, especially if the laws and social norms are drastically different in the place where you studied abroad. You got so used to a lifestyle and returning home can be a huge change. If things are stricter at home, such as drinking laws and public transportation, you may feel more constrained when you leave your study abroad country.

To help you cope, focus on positive things about your home. While you likely had friends while studying abroad, chances are not all of your friends could go, so make it a point to see your home friends and relive your experiences by telling them about your semester. You might miss the food where you studied abroad, so go to your favorite restaurant at home.

Missing the country you studied in

You will no doubt miss the country you were studying in. You were acclimated to a whole new place and you may have fallen in love with it. Once you return home, you may be comparing where you live to where you studied and you may feel like your home will never measure up. Make concrete plans to go back and visit the country you studied in. If you made close friends that live in the country, make a point to visit them. Plan to go on a family trip so you can show your loved ones what was so special about your study abroad experience.

Post-Study Abroad Depression is real. You may find yourself comparing everything at home to your study abroad country. You may get into a “funk” and may find it difficult to readjust to coming home. Many students returning home after studying abroad face depression. Knowing that this is a thing can help you seek out help and allow you to find resources to help you cope with readjusting. Do not beat yourself up if you do not get reacquainted with home life right away, but if several weeks or months go by and you are still struggling, seek out help and support.

You will be a different person

When you study abroad, you experience things that people at home may never experience. While your perception of the world and things at home changed, your loved ones at home are still in their “old” ways. You probably had experiences and challenges that helped you grow and mature. It may be difficult to adjust to friends and loved ones who may not have changed as much. They may not know how much you have changed as well. Be patient, and tell them to be patient with you. Do not be too harsh if you do not feel like they are on your level of experience and maturity. Realize that you will be different and adjust yourself accordingly.

You will miss the friends you met

Whether you met a new friend who went abroad with you or you met someone in the country you studied in, once you return home, you may not see them as often as you did when you studied abroad. This is difficult, especially when you are dealing with the other emotional difficulties you face as you are readjusting to life back at home.

If you met new people from your school who are a part of your major, make it a point to meet up on campus the next semester and keep in touch over break. They understand the struggles you are facing in returning home and having someone to relate to is helpful. Also, look into joining your school’s international club. Many of these students may have studied abroad at some point and probably experienced the same readjustment you face. Meeting new people will allow you to exchange stories and expand your base of those you can relate to.

Thanks to technology, it is easy to keep in touch with friends you left behind in the country where you studied. You can find them on social media or keep in touch via email. If you would rather keep in touch the old fashioned way, exchange physical addresses so that you can write back and forth. This allows you to send physical letters and even postcards to each other. Having something physical to hold and save will prove to be meaningful immediately upon your return home as well as for years to come.

Studying abroad can be amazing, but readjusting to life at home can be a challenge. However, if you know what challenges you may face upon returning home, you will be able to brace yourself and seek out support for whatever you do face.

By Ashley Paskill

Uloop Writer

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