So you’re back! You’ve now reunited with friends and family and shared countless stories about your adventures, people you met, food you ate, and the parts of your life from abroad that you will miss dearly. Now what? They may have begun to grow tired of your stories that begin with “Well this one time in (name a country)…” or you’ve realized that their lives continued on and you may feel like you’ve missed out on things back home. Your study abroad experience isn’t over. You are in the final stage of study abroad: re-entry.
For most people, it takes time to readjust to home. It may not be apparent, but you’ve grown. You may have new perspectives on people, culture, politics, and even your own future path. The re-entry process can make these more apparent than ever and it’s important to utilize this time to understand how study abroad has affected you and how you can use it to move ahead in your personal and professional life. Your university can be a great resource for this.
Consider meeting with your study abroad office to see if they have tools and activities for re-entry students. Many of them will have groups that students can be a part of either to help future study abroad students or to network with other students that have recently returned. They can also recommend cultural groups that can keep you connected to your host country’s language and culture. If you’ve got the travel bug, your study abroad office can help you plan both academically and financially for another opportunity abroad whether it be through a study program, volunteering, interning, or teaching.
You may also want to set up an appointment with a career counselor. They can help you discover marketable skills you’ve gained while abroad and utilize the awesome stories you’ve come home with to create great creative interview responses or elevator pitches that better summarize your time abroad in a professional way. These same skills can also be used to stand out in graduate school applications and networking events. A career counselor will also advise you on how to convey your experience on your resume and cover letters.
Studying abroad is a fantastic opportunity you can build and grow off of. It is up to you to make the most of it and surround yourself with the people and resources to make it successful. Welcome home!
Allison Suhan spent five years in the study abroad industry and is a former co-chair of the Minnesota Study Abroad Reentry Conference. For additional information about returning from a study abroad experience, she recommends Life After Study Abroad.