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Adjusting: Dealing with Expectations

Readjusting to life in the home country can be one of the most difficult and challenging experiences for students who have studied abroad. We refer to the heart of this adjustment process as "reverse culture shock," and it often comes as a surprise to the returning student.

The decision to study abroad involves extensive preparation. Students anticipate that many changes and adaptations will accompany the adjustment to a new culture. The mood of excitement and expectation usually carries a student through this phase of getting ready and then surviving in their new environment.

However, when students approach the end of their studies abroad and get ready to return home, they don't generally give much thought or preparation to the re-entry process. The attitude might be, "What's the big deal about returning home? It's my home country. I speak the language. I know the culture. And my family and friends are waiting to welcome me home." Unfortunately, the unexpected nature of reverse culture shock can cause significant problems and increase the challenges of re-entry.

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