Yes, you’re going to have a lot to look forward to when you get back to the U.S. – seeing friends and family again, eating all your favorite foods, being back in your home state. But what you may not expect is the difficulty you will have reintegrating back into your own country. Many students experience reverse culture shock or re-entry shock – at first they are so excited to be home, then after a few weeks they become confused why they are struggling so much with re-adjusting. You may find that your host country now feels like home as well and you miss the people you met there.
This experience has changed you as a person, you now think of things from a multicultural perspective. You may find it hard to relate all of your experiences with people at home; they simply might not understand, or they might get tired of hearing about everything you saw and did while away. They have also been doing things while you’re gone and you might feel left out because you missed those.
Don’t let it get you down; this is just a sign that you had a great experience abroad. A great way to cope with reverse culture shock is to spend time with other students who have been abroad or keep in touch with the people you met on your program. Keep the memories alive; keep thinking about what you learned abroad. Don’t think that life will be exactly how it was before, because you have grown as a person. You’ve discovered that you can adapt to new situations and styles of living, and you will most likely experience wanderlust. Take that feeling of restlessness and focus it on planning your next adventure.
Michaela Wade is a junior at the University of Kentucky studying Spanish. She participated in a UK Partner program with SOL Education Abroad at the Latin University of Costa Rica in fall 2015.