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Coping, adjusting and getting involved

Return shock

As you arrive back in the States, you are likely to experience culture shock again, called “return shock” or “re-entry culture shock.” Just as your host country seemed difficult and unmanageable to you a little while ago, home may seem that way to you now. “Return shock” is a perfectly normal reaction suffered by many who have been abroad.

Return shock could range from annoyance at not finding the food and products to which you have become accustomed to difficulty reestablishing ties with family and friends. Initially you may feel that you no longer fit in. The truth is you have changed culturally.

Easing your transition

  • Find a receptive audience.
  • Take advantage of opportunities to meet other returned study abroad students at our Welcome Home receptions and returnee workshops.
  • Volunteer, work or intern at the International Center.
  • Become internationally active at MU.
  • Join the MSA/GPC International Programming Committee to get involved in international activities.
  • Become active with one of the many international student organizations on campus.
  • Request an international roommate if you live on campus, live in the Pangaea learning community in Laws Hall, or try to form your own “language house” (or apartment) to keep your language skills up.
  • Continue your foreign-language studies.
  • Stay in touch with people you met abroad.

Return shock is temporary, and you will be able to readjust to your home culture. Be patient, flexible and understanding of the events and people around you and you will soon be reintegrated into the culture you have always known.

Side effects of living in other cultures

  • Increased awareness of international issues and needs.
  • More open-minded.
  • Increased independence.
  • A more realistic spectrum of success standards.
  • More tolerance of different view points.
  • Competence in another language.
  • Increased sensitivity to differences in people and greater acceptance of diversity.
  • More complex self-awareness that will help when making decisions.
  • An increase in creativity, combining different cultural ideas.
  • A greater appreciation of “cultural relativity.”