group shot in madrid

Coming Home

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Welcome back!

And welcome to the large—and expanding—community of CIEE program alumni. Whether you studied abroad, participated in a work and travel program, or a faculty development seminar we hope you enjoyed your international experience with CIEE.

If you’re a U.S. high school or university student whose study abroad program ended less than a month ago and you haven't yet completed your Online Student Evaluation, please do so; we value your opinions and want to hear them!

Reverse Culture Shock

Upon returning home, you were undoubtedly happy to see your friends and family, and glad to be back in familiar territory. At times, though, your inability to communicate all of your thoughts and feelings about your life abroad may be frustrating. It might also prove difficult to reconcile the life you lived abroad, with the one you’re coming back to.

These feelings can manifest themselves in a number of ways including:

  • Reverse homesickness-missing people and places from abroad
  • Boredom, insecurity, uncertainty, confusion, frustration
  • Need for excessive sleep
  • Feelings of alienation, withdrawal, or resistance toward family and friends

This phenomenon is known as “reverse culture shock” or “re-entry shock.” And while it may not be as significant as the initial culture shock you experienced upon going overseas, reverse culture shock can be more upsetting as it is often unexpected.

During this transition period, it’s important to keep in touch with participants from your program. Together you can provide a great support system for one another. They will be interested in hearing about your experiences and feelings about being home.

As with initial culture shock, it will take time and effort for you to make a successful readjustment. Not only have you learned about another culture, but gained greater insight into yourself and your own culture.

Suggestions for overcoming reverse culture shock are:

  • Get involved with groups or in activities that are international in focus. Or continue a new interest that you acquired while overseas.
  • If you learned a new language while you were abroad, try to keep it up. Join a conversation group or seek out other people with whom you can speak the language. They will welcome the opportunity to speak their native tongue and—as fellow international students, teachers, and professionals—will enjoy sharing common experiences.