For Alumni: Resources to Keep in Touch
Re-Entry Culture Shock

Welcome back! We hope you enjoyed your time abroad with IFSA-Butler and are settling smoothly back into life at home. During your predeparture process you heard our staff talk a lot about culture shock, and you probably experienced the phenomenon yourself at some point during your time abroad. Now that you're home, you may think we're done talking about culture shock—but we're not!

More on Culture Shock

It is very common to experience reverse culture shock. Are you wishing you were still abroad? Missing the friends, family, adventure and lifestyle you left behind? Sometimes coming back home isn't always as easy as it sounds! Here are some reasons why you may be feeling this way, courtesy of the University of the Pacific's "What's up with culture?" site:

  • Culture shock is largely unexplained
    While you're prepared for culture shock when heading abroad, few people prepare for the return because they expect it to be easy and are surprised when it is not.
  • The perception of home differs from reality
    When you are abroad, images of home life can become idealized or romanticized. It is easy to forget or minimize the issues that were once sources of stress in your everyday life. Re-encountering them can be disconcerting.
  • You've changed–but people expect you to be the same!
    However major or subtle, things are different. You, the people around you, and your culture have changed. Sometimes this is obvious and immediately observable; sometimes it is "hidden" and only comes out under certain circumstances. People generally expect you to be the same person you were when you left and usually attempt to treat you that way.
  • Reverse culture shock is not recognized or understood at home
    While you were abroad, the idea culture shock was understood and largely expected. However, few people at home are likely to be familiar with the concept of reverse culture shock. Family and friends may pressure you to conform quickly and tolerance may be in short supply. People may respond to you having difficulty readjusting by suggesting you "get over it" as though these feelings are a conscious act on your part.

Be prepared

Just like culture shock, re-entry shock does not always set in right away. At first you'll no doubt be excited to be home and catch up with all your friends and family! However, as things settle back into a steady routine for you, and after everyone has heard your stories and seen your pictures, you may realize you're missing your adopted country abroad.

If you do experience reverse culture shock, here are some tips and resources to help you settle back in:

  • Join the international club on your home campus or see if your community has a social group for the country where you studied abroad.
  • Talk to the study abroad advisor at your home college or university. You won't be the first person who has had trouble re-adjusting to campus life.
  • Consider sharing your experience with other students like you! Apply to be an IFSA-Butler Ambassador or serve as a contact for students interested in studying abroad at your host university.
  • Keep up with your friends from abroad by using social networking sites like IFSA-Butler's Alumni Student Page
  • Consider volunteering as a peer advisor in your home campus study abroad office so that you can share your positive experiences with others.
  • Take a foreign language course, join a conversation club, or watch a foreign language film!
  • Rent movies from the country where you studied abroad and keep up with the news and sports by buying magazines or newspapers from your host country.
  • Visit the following links for resources and additional support:

University of the Pacific: What's Up With Culture?

Abroad View's Re-entry Resources

Connecting Our World: Getting Involved


Institute for Study Abroad, Alliance For Global Education and MORE CULTURE. LESS SHOCK. are registered marks of the Institute for Study Abroad, Inc.