After completing an enriching study abroad experience in another country, most students are excited to return home and share their experiences with friends and family. Though returning to a familiar environment, some students have issues re-acclimating.
Re-entry is the process of readjustment to your home culture and is often referred to as "reverse culture shock." At first, you may be very pleased, even euphoric, to be back in your home country, and others will be equally delighted to have you back. After people express their pleasure at seeing you again and listen politely to your stories for a few minutes, you may realize suddenly that they are not particularly interested in what happened to you and would much rather talk about their own affairs.
This may prompt feelings of irritation with others and impatience with your own inability to do things as well or as quickly as you had hoped. Resentment, loneliness, disorientation, and even a sense of helplessness may pervade your emotions. Just as you overcame culture shock and learned to adjust to life abroad, you will also need to give yourself time to re-adjust to life at home. You will also need to find ways to utilize your new maturity, independence, language and cross-cultural skills.
How long and how strongly a student experiences reverse culture shock can depend on multiple factors, such as length of time away, previous travel abroad, and frequency of communication with people back home while abroad. Even though there are different levels of reverse culture shock, there are ways to deal with it. One of the best ways to combat "re-entry shock" is to become involved in international or cross-cultural groups on the Bentley Campus.
Bentley also collaborates with other Boston-area colleges to sponsor an annual New England Study Abroad Re-entry Conference for students returning from abroad. This conference allows study abroad returnees to connect with other returned students and explore topics such as reverse culture shock, internationalizing your resume and interviewing skills, going abroad again, and international opportunities throughout the region.