For those of you whose semester abroad has gone by in the blink of an eye, we know that you’re probably dreading the idea of leaving that new, amazing place you’ve been calling home for 4-6 months. We want to prevent you from being diagnosed with SAOD upon your return home, so we have some more tips for you to help with your re-entry adjustment! After reading Matador’s article about the 5 things NOT to do after returning from abroad (and completely agreeing with everything they mentioned), I couldn’t help but think about the things students CAN and SHOULD do to make their transition home smoother.
So here are 5 things to do after returning from your study abroad experience!
1) Become a study abroad representative and advocate at your school! What better way to spread your newfound passion for travel and studying abroad than to encourage other students to have the same sort of life-changing experience as you did! This role could be in the form of peer advising other students or being a panelist at an orientation for future study abroad students. If you’re like me, this step alone could change the course of your life and lead you to pursuing a career international education!
2) Remember all those things you appreciate and missed about home while you were abroad. It’s easy to fall into a rut once you return and think things like “Man, I miss that free-spirited, adrenaline rush of a lifestyle I had in New Zealand”, or “How am I going to survive without my new BFFs that I spent everyday with?” Chances are you had similar anxieties either before you left the US, or shortly after arriving in your host country. So think back to those things you loved about your home-your friends, family, conveniences like driving, shops being open past 5pm, or cheaper groceries. As a Wisconsin native, I was more than excited to come home to real cheese, great micro brews, and the freedom to drive anywhere I pleased. And when it comes to staying in touch with those BFFs from abroad, Skype, Google Chat, and smartphone apps have all made it almost impossible NOT to keep in frequent contact with friends across the country or globe!
3) Join a community group representative of the country you studied abroad in. Surrounding yourself with people who completely know and understand the culture you were immersed in is a great opportunity to keep that fire alive and be able to talk about all the amazing things their country has to offer! Try signing up for African drum lessons if you studied in Ghana, Salsa dancing for those who ventured to Spain, or crepe making classes if you journeyed to France. I’d also recommend trying to find people with similar cultural interests on Meetup.com.
4) Volunteer as an English teacher if you studied in a country where English was not the primary language used. One of the major benefits to studying abroad is that you foster a greater understanding of a new culture. So why not put that knowledge to good use and help those from your host country who are living in the US and trying to improve their English language skills. Because you knew how difficult it was to live in a place where the native language is not one you are either familiar with or fully comfortable using, you have the incredible ability as a teacher to empathize with your students and adjust to their needs. It may even get you thinking about opportunities to teach abroad!
5) Last, but not least, leave a review on Abroad101! There are so many eager students out there trying to sort through the thousands of study abroad programs out there, so leaving a review on our site will only help them filter their choices and guide them towards great programs like the ones we hoped you experienced! Be the voice for your peers and help them make the most informed decision on something that could ultimately change their lives!