Facing Re-Entry Challenges

When you first got to China or India, you probably were expecting some degree of culture shock. What you might not have counted on is that returning can be much harder. Coming back home can be a mixture of excitement to see old friends and family and sadness to be leaving your new friends and new home behind. It can be frustrating to come back to a place that is not exactly how you imagined it while you were away. Things might have changed while you were gone, and you may have idealized your home and home culture when comparing it with the unknown abroad. Once you come back you might realize that not everything is as perfect as you remembered, and may even become very critical of your own culture when comparing it to Asia.

Just as you might have felt homesick for the U.S. while abroad, you will probably feel homesick for India or China upon returning. Even though Asia wasn’t your home for as long as the U.S. most likely has been, it still was a temporary home and there are bound to be things that you miss about it. In time, you will get used to this feeling, just as you got used to being away from home when you first left the country.

Another common problem is that, while your friends and family are happy to have you back and anxious to hear about your experience, their interest only goes so far. People may soon grow tired of hearing your constant comparisons and stories from abroad. This doesn’t mean that they never want to hear about your time away from home, but it might be better to save a lot of the stories for discussions with other returnees or to keep updating your blog so others can read at their own convenience.

We know that it can be difficult but we also know that it gets better. These feelings are only temporary and they are absolutely normal. Just as adjusting to the culture of your host country required some time, readjusting to the United States will also take a while. In the meantime, try out some of the suggestions above and check out these links about returning to the U.S.:

http://www.lifeafterstudyabroad.com/
http://www.studentsabroad.com/handbook/reverse-culture-shock.php?country=General
http://www2.pacific.edu/sis/culture/
http://www.cnn.com/2010/TRAVEL/08/24/cultural.reentry/index.html?_s=PM:TRAVEL
http://www.transitionsabroad.com/publications/magazine/0507/coming_home_from_study_abroad.shtml