Study Abroad

Transitioning Back to the US

Does it feel like reverse culture shock?

Before studying away, students are often informed of the challenges they may face in adapting to a new culture, commonly known as culture shock. Like outgoing students, returning students also confront the sometimes-difficult process of re-adapting to their life at home. The reverse culture shock experienced by returning education abroad participants may seem more difficult or stressful than the adaptation process they encountered when they were studying away.

Here are a few typical themes noted by study abroad participants upon their return:

  • A difficult time relating to friends and family members.
  • Missing aspects of their study away experience.
  • Feeling “down” about being back.
  • Frustration with the minimal interest in their global experiences by friends and family members.
  • Lack of interest in their pictures, journals, and stories.
  • An inability to effectively communicate their experience to others that have not had a similar journey.

Hang in there!

This experience is temporary, as was your initial adjustment when you went abroad. Your friends and family may not be able to relate to your experiences because they weren’t there with you and they may not recognize that you need time to readapt and get caught up with life at home. Your experience may have produced new behaviors, attitudes and values they do not recognize. You might even have a whole new perspective on the world. In short, you are different and it will take time to integrate your new view of the world with your life back home.

Here are few suggestions to help ease your transition:

  • Talk to other returned students that have also gone abroad and would wish to hear about your experience.
  • Get involved on campus with programs for international students studying at URI, become a member of a student organization with an international focus, volunteer with the Office of International Education by participating in the Peer Ambassador Program.
  • Visit the Office of International Education and speak with an Education Abroad Advisor. We are here to listen and would like to hear all about your experience.

Contact Information

Office of International Education and National Student Exchange
Monday – Friday, 8:30am – 4:30pm EST
37 Lower College Road, Kingston, RI, 02881

Advising Appointments
To schedule an appointment, log into Starfish, search for International Education and National Student Exchange and select the advisor based on your college.