The experience of studying abroad does not end upon return to the United States. Classes may be over but the student has another phase of adjustment–reverse culture shock. Readjusting to the home culture involves integrating the abroad experience with life in the U.S. It begins by saying good-bye to people and places abroad and renewing relationships at home. For some students the transition is easy; for others it is stressful. They may not feel that people at home can relate to their experiences abroad. However, there are many students on the Whitman campus who return each semester who often seek each other out for support.
The following are some suggestions given to students for counteracting reverse culture shock:
- Share feelings rather than experiences with friends or family (it sounds less like bragging).
- Become informed about the U.S. again. Things change and the student’s information may be out of date. Learn the new “trends,” such as styles, vocabulary, food and technology.
- Seek out others who have had international experiences they may want to share.
- Give people the two-minute answer to the question “How was your study abroad experience?” rather than the two-hour answer, or at least give them the choice.
- Find out what your friends and family did while you were gone. It shows interest in other people and encourages the sharing of experiences, not just the telling.
by L. Robert Kohls