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Post Study Abroad

Welcome back to AUB! We hope you had a great semester abroad and that you feel you have grown both academically and personally. To help you adjust back to life at AUB, we have compiled some important resources for you. OIP holds Post Study Abroad Gatherings each semester to welcome students back to campus, provide advice for incorporating the study abroad experience into resumes and job interviews, and give students the opportunity to share their experiences. Stay tuned for an invitation to the next Post Study Abroad Gathering.

Just returned from a great semester abroad? Here’s a useful Post Study Abroad Checklist to make sure you are ready for the new semester back at AUB.

Reverse Culture Shock Information

Below is a guide to reverse culture shock adapted from Students Abroad

Defining Reverse Culture Shock
So what is reverse culture shock? First, let's examine the process of re–entry. There are usually two elements that characterize a study abroad student's re–entry:

  •  An idealized view of home
  •    The expectation of total familiarity (that nothing at home has changed while you have been away in the country of your choice)

Often students expect to be able to pick up exactly where they left off. A problem arises when reality doesn't meet these expectations. Home may fall short of what you had envisioned, and things may have changed at home: your friends and family have their own lives, and things have happened since you've been gone. This is part of why home may feel so foreign.

Feelings You May Experience
The inconsistency between expectations and reality, plus the lack of interest on the part of family and friends (nobody seems to really care about all of your "when I was abroad in the country of your choice" stories) may result in: frustration, feelings of alienation, and mutual misunderstandings between study abroad students and their friends and family. Of course, the difficulty of readjustment will vary for different individuals, but, in general, the better integrated you have become to the country of your choice’s culture and lifestyle, the harder it is to readjust during re–entry. This is where reverse culture shock (sometimes called re–entry shock) comes in to play.

Stages of Reverse Culture Shock
Reverse culture shock is usually described in four stages:

1.   Disengagement

2.   Initial euphoria

3.  Irritability and hostility

4.   Readjustment and adaptation

Stage 1 begins before you leave the country of your choice. You begin thinking about re–entry and making your preparations for your return home. You also begin to realize that it's time to say good–bye to your friends in the country of your choice and to the place you've come to call home. The hustle and bustle of finals, good–bye parties, and packing can intensify your feelings of sadness and frustration. You already miss the friends you've made, and you are reluctant to leave. Or, you may make your last few days fly by so fast that you don't have time to reflect on your emotions and experiences.

Stage 2 usually begins shortly before departure, and it is characterized by feelings of excitement and anticipation – even euphoria – about returning home. This is very similar to the initial feelings of fascination and excitement you may have when you first entered the country of your choice. You may be very happy to see your family and friends again, and they are also happy to see you. The length of this stage varies, and often ends with the realization that most people are not as interested in your experiences in the country of your choice as you had hoped. They will politely listen to your stories for a while, but you may find that soon they are ready to move on to the next topic of conversation.This is often one of the transitions to Stage 3.

Stage 3  You may experience feelings of frustration, anger, alienation, loneliness, disorientation, and helplessness and not understand exactly why. You might quickly become irritated or critical of others and of your home culture. Depression, feeling like a stranger at home, and the longing to go back abroad are also not uncommon reactions. You may also feel less independent than you were in the country of your choice. Most people are then able to move onto Stage 4, which is a gradual readjustment to life at home.

Stage 4 Things will start to seem a little more normal again, and you will probably fall back into some old routines, but things won't be exactly the same as how you left them. You have most likely developed new attitudes, beliefs, habits, as well as personal and professional goals, and you will see things differently now. The important thing is to try to incorporate the positive aspects of your international experience in the country of your choice with the positive aspects of your life at home



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