Washington State Community College Consortium For Study Abroad

Re-entry Guide

Posted by Virginia Gabby On January - 5 - 2017


What is Re-entry?

Re-entry is the process of returning home after spending time abroad. It is a powerful experience that has the potential to allow for personal growth, to provide mobility for social action and civic engagement, to enhance skills for your professional life, and lastly the ability to further your knowledge about the world and your place within it.  The traditional view of re-entry has focused mainly on the emotional challenges that come with seeing your home community or country again after studying or living abroad. Like many other students returning from studying abroad, the emotions are just one aspect of your experience. You may also need to:  meaningfully connect with others through social action or civic engagement; integrate your new experiences into your academic and professional life; find ways to continue to embody the global understanding that you experienced abroad.


Personal/emotional – 

Adjusting to life at home after studying abroad can often lead to a range of emotions and confusing questions. Often these emotions are described as reverse culture shock.  The key to facilitating your personal/emotional re-entry is staying connected to people.

• Make time to show your pictures or gather others’ pictures from abroad.

• Discuss or write about (in a group or individually) the fears and expectations of returning home and dealing with relatives, friends and acquaintances.  Keeping a journal during this time may be extremely useful.

• Develop and participate in support groups with others on the program.

• Identify others you can talk to upon return.

• Serve as a contact for future students who are about to embark on a similar experience. Let your Study Abroad Coordinator know if you are interested in being a resource in the future.

• Develop ways to effectively share your experience and self-growth with people at home.

• Acknowledge the new set of values and beliefs adopted in the host country while continuing to celebrate your own cultural heritage.


Re-entry Frustrations – 

1. Boredom

2. “No one wants to hear about this”

3. It’s hard to explain

4. Reverse homesickness

5. Previous Relationships have changed

6. People see the “wrong” changes

7. People misunderstand if I adopt elements of my host culture; they misinterpret my behavior

8. Feelings of alienation; seeing home with critical eyes

9. Inability to apply new knowledge and skills

10. Fear of losing the experience, like storing it away in a souvenir box that we only occasionally look at.


Re-entry Solutions – 

1. Visit your school’s International Programs office. We are travel people, too.We want to see your photos, hear your tales and talk with you about your travels.

2. Write for WCCCSA’s testimonials page about your study abroad experience. We are always looking for students to write for our site. We would love to share your words with interested students. If you are interested email virginia.gabby@seattlecolleges.edu today!

3. Befriend a newly arrived international student. You might remember how difficult it was when you first arrived in your host-country and how nice it would have been to have a ‘friend’ available to help. Ask us for details and a partner.

4. Volunteer at any of the Study Abroad Events your International Programs office sponsors.

5. Look into the various student clubs and organizations available at your school. Learn about the various activities they sponsor. Get involved in working toward making your school a more culturally and socially diverse!

6. Share your email address with students interested in studying on the same program or in the same country as you. Interested students love to email questions and hear first hand about overseas experiences. Your emails will be treasured!

7. Make a scrapbook of your travels. Include your memories along side the photos and souvenirs. You will treasure the scrapbook for years to come!

8. Study Abroad Again !!! If you have the itch to go abroad again, check with our staff about the various programs available. We are happy to help you explore additional international opportunities. Be a REPEAT OFFENDER!


Additional Resources –

  1. Lessons From Abroad: http://www.lessonsfromabroad.org/resources/
  2. USA Today: http://college.usatoday.com/2016/06/05/7-ways-to-cope-with-re-entry-shock-after-studying-abroad/ 
  3. Go Abroad.com : https://www.goabroad.com/articles/after-your-life-abroad 
  4. Small Planet Studio: http://smallplanetstudio.com
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