People you were close with when you left, even those with whom you kept in good contact, will be separated from you by the unique experiences you have had in each other’s absence. However, this separation is certainly not permanent, and new experiences can make for some very interesting conversation. Just keep in mind that since both of you have changed, you won’t necessarily interact in the same way.
Sharing Your Experience
Since only you have had your experience, there is no possible way that anyone can fully understand what you have gone through. While people will be interested in what you did abroad, nobody will be quite as interested as you — despite your amazing storytelling skills.
Fitting your new life into your old one can be frustrating. Since every country has a unique approach to life, it can be difficult if you’re used to operating within cultural mode, or have made that approach to life a part of you, to return to the U.S. where the rules are different. It’s easy to become frustrated with aspects of U.S. culture that no longer make sense to you. Try to keep things in perspective. Bear in mind that every country has its flaws and its strengths. Also be prepared to return to all those little trials you left behind you. You might have journeyed far, far away, but they haven’t.
Returning home is wonderful in so many ways (it is possible to dramatize the glory of your return home; it is also possible once you have returned home to over-romanticize your experience abroad). However, there is always the danger of falling victim to the "grass is greener syndrome." A few things might make re-entry a little easier:
- talk to others who have studied abroad
- keep in touch with those you met abroad
- use the emotional momentum to continue cultural interactions
- be patient with yourself and others
International Programs & Services is continuing to build a better program in order to assist returning Study Abroad students with adjusting back to life here in the U.S. Please do not hesitate to contact the IPS office, if you are experiencing painful feelings that would be related to reverse culture shock. We are here to assist you in anyway we can.