Welcome back! You have returned from a study, internship or volunteer program and may be wondering, “What now?” Your international experience does not have to end with the plane ride back to the States—there are many ways to get involved on your home campus, share your experience with others, and pursue new international opportunities in the future. Review the information on this page about re-entry and reverse culture shock, staying connected, and resources available to returnee participants.
Your thoughts are important to us! Fill out the evaluation sent to you upon your return and let us know your thoughts on the program. We appreciate your feedback!
In this section, you will learn how to cope with reverse culture shock you may experience upon return to the United States. One of the biggest challenges for students who participate in study abroad can be the difficulty in re–adapting to the realities in the United States (otherwise known as "re–entry"). Many students who studied abroad go through a variety of changes, re–examining their priorities, their values, and what they think of themselves and the United States. The "reverse culture shock" may be more difficult than the "culture shock" you felt when you first went abroad. If return culture shock is severe, it is important that you are able to seek help or counseling to help you through it.
Just as culture shock can differ greatly from person to person, reverse culture shock is just as personal of an experience. Upon return to the United States, you may find many things are different from how you left them. You may be more critical of the United States, while you now view the country where you studied in a more favorable light. From language adjustments to a simple trip to the supermarket, reverse culture shock can hit you in more ways than you would expect.
Defining Reverse Culture Shock
There are usually two elements that characterize a study abroad student's re–entry:
-An idealized view of home
-The expectation of total familiarity (that nothing at home has changed while you have been abroad)
Often students expect to be able to pick up exactly where they left off. A problem arises when reality doesn't meet these expectations. Home may fall short of what you had envisioned, and things may have changed at home: your friends and family have their own lives, and things have happened since you've been gone. This is part of why home may feel so foreign.
Feelings You May Experience
The inconsistency between expectations and reality, plus the lack of interest on the part of family and friends (nobody seems to really care about all of your "when I was abroad" stories) may result in: frustration, feelings of alienation, and mutual misunderstandings between study abroad students and their friends and family. Of course, the difficulty of readjustment will vary for different individuals, but, in general, the better integrated you became in the culture and lifestyle of the country in which you studied, the harder it will be to readjust during re–entry.
Stages of Reverse Culture Shock
Reverse culture shock is usually described in four stages:
-Irritability and hostility
-Readjustment and adaptation
Stage 1 begins before you return to the US. You begin thinking about re–entry and making your preparations for your return home. You also begin to realize that it's time to say good–bye to the friends you’ve made abroad and to the place you've come to call home. The hustle and bustle of finals, good–bye parties, and packing can intensify your feelings of sadness and frustration. You already miss your friends, and you are reluctant to leave. Or, you may make your last few days fly by so fast that you don't have time to reflect on your emotions and experiences.
Stage 2 usually begins shortly before departure, and it is characterized by feelings of excitement and anticipation – even euphoria – about returning home. This is very similar to the initial feelings of fascination and excitement you may have when you first entered the country of your choice. You may be very happy to see your family and friends again, and they are also happy to see you. The length of this stage varies, and often ends with the realization that most people are not as interested in your experiences abroad as you had hoped. They will politely listen to your stories for a while, but you may find that soon they are ready to move on to the next topic of conversation.
This is often one of the transitions to Stage 3. You may experience feelings of frustration, anger, alienation, loneliness, disorientation, and helplessness and not understand exactly why. You might quickly become irritated or critical of others and of U.S. culture. Depression, feeling like a stranger at home, and the longing to go back abroad are also common reactions. You may also feel less independent than you were in the country of your choice.
Most people are then able to move onto Stage 4, which is a gradual readjustment to life at home. Things will start to seem a little more normal again, and you will probably fall back into some old routines, but things won't be exactly the same as how you left them. You have most likely developed new attitudes, beliefs, habits, as well as personal and professional goals, and you will see things differently now. The important thing is to try to incorporate the positive aspects of your international experience with the positive aspects of your life at home in the United States.
*The text in this section was taken from the Center for Global Education.
JU and the Jacksonville community provide many opportunities for you to continue having an international experience right here in the United States.
A study, internship or volunteer program not only provided you with international experience, but you have also gained new skills that potential employers look for in job candidates. Visit the career center and study abroad office for more specific details and advice about where and how to include and feature these new skills and experiences on a résumé, cover letter, and in the interview.
If you're interested in doing another IEP program volunteering abroad, check out the options by following the Volunteer Abroad tab at the top of this page. For more programs not necessarily geared towards students, check out the following links.
The Peace Corps traces its roots and mission to 1960, when then Senator John F. Kennedy challenged students at the University of Michigan to serve their country in the cause of peace by living and working in developing countries. From that inspiration grew an agency of the federal government devoted to world peace and friendship.
Goabroad.com has advanced search tools and Online Advisors that will help you find the perfect international volunteer program based on country of interest, type of volunteer work, and duration. They've got over 3000 to choose from so you're sure to find one that fits your interests!
Whether you are interested in foreign diplomacy and politics, international education, graduate study or research abroad, volunteerism, or a part time work program in another country, there are resources available to help you take the first step. The resources below can help you get started and you can always stop by the office to get more information.
The US State Department is the lead U.S. foreign affairs policy
United for a Better World, The peace keepers of the world
GoAbroad.com lists international job opportunities with search tools for country of interest and specific type of job.
GoAbroad.com has a comprehensive directory of international teaching positions. Searching for the most suitable overseas teaching job is made easy with the country search tool, freshest teaching job posts, and teach abroad resources.
Critical Language Scholarships for Intensive Summer Institutes are part of a U.S. government interagency effort to expand dramatically the number of Americans studying and mastering critical need foreign languages. Scholarship recipients - U.S. citizen undergraduate, Master's and Ph.D. students and recent graduates - receive funding to participate in beginning, intermediate and advanced level summer language programs at American Overseas Research Centers and affiliated partners.
Rotary International's programs for students and youth can change the lives of those who participate. Through these programs, young people can earn scholarships, travel on cultural exchanges, or help a community through a service project.
The Fulbright Program was established in 1946 under legislation introduced by then Senator J. William Fulbright of Arkansas. The Fulbright Program is sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the United States Department of State. The Fulbright provides grants for study, research and teaching work abroad.
The Rhodes Scholarships, the oldest international fellowships, were initiated after the death of Cecil Rhodes in 1902, and bring outstanding students from many countries around the world to the University of Oxford. American Rhodes Scholars are selected through a decentralized process by which regional selection committees choose 32 Scholars each year from among those nominated by selection committees in each of the fifty states. In most years, a Rhodes Scholar is selected from an institution which has not formerly supplied a successful applicant.
The George J. Mitchell Scholarship is a national competitive fellowship sponsored by the US-Ireland Alliance. Twelve Mitchell Scholars between the ages of 18 and 30 are chosen annually for one year of postgraduate study in any discipline offered by institutions of higher learning in Ireland and Northern Ireland. Applicants are judged on three criteria: academic excellence, leadership, and a sustained commitment to service and community.
The ASF's award program for study and research abroad has been the Foundation's most long-standing commitment to educational exchange. During the past 94 years, over 3,800 fellowships and grants have been given to Americans and Scandinavians engaged in study or research projects.
Since 1990, the Foundation has awarded over $11.2 million in language grants. Blakemore Freeman Fellowships fund a year of advanced study of an Asian language in Asia for American citizens and permanent residents of the United States who have a college degree and who plan to use an Asian language in their careers.
DAAD grants for study and research in Germany are available to faculty and students in Canada and the United States. Scholars participate in a wide variety of academic activities to promote international academic relations and cooperation. Application deadlines vary.
The Scotland-USA Graduate Study Scholarship is open to US Nationals and is aimed at encouraging bright, talented and hard working individuals to live, work and study in Scotland. Awards are available for full time graduate study at Scotland's universities or higher education institutions listed. Courses must be masters programs, and can be either taught or research. The scholarship is a total of £2000 (British pounds)
A JU Ambassador is any student who would like to share their study, internship or volunteer experience with other students here on campus. This is a great résumé builder as well as a way to continue your international experience after completing an IEP program.
Activities include classroom visits, attending and assisting with the study abroad fair, and other tasks involved in promoting our study, internship, and volunteer programs.
Contact IEP to find out how you can get started!
You will know what JU courses you will be getting credit for before you depart on you program. For semester programs, you will have to fill out the Course Approval Form and obtain the appropriate signatures before you leave. Short term program course equivalents are predetermined and the student is not required get further approval. Your grades and the credits earned while abroad will be reflected on your official Jacksonville University transcript upon your return with no further paperwork on your part.
Additional requests for transcripts can be made at any time. There may be an additional charge, depending on the shipping option selected. This charge is the sole responsibility of the student. Download a transcript request form.
It's in the works! Check back soon for more details or stop by the office.