You have just returned home from an amazing time studying abroad; you saw new places, met new people, and were completely integrated into another culture.
You may have learned a lot about yourself and even re-examined your priorities, values, and what you think of the United States and the culture you were brought up in.
You are sad to leave, but excited to get back and tell everyone about your travels, and excited to get back to familiar ground and pick-up where you left off. However, the reality may fall short of your expectations as life in the US has not stopped while you were gone, and others have had things happening in their own lives or events that you were not a part of. Although you have had a life-changing experience, some people may tire quickly from your stories or the amazing things you learned and experienced.
After you get home and realize everyone has grown weary of your travel tales, you miss the excitement of your life abroad, or you feel like a stranger at home, you may have feelings of frustration, anger, or loneliness. These are all sentiments of “reverse culture shock” and are natural to experience. How can you work through those feelings and ensure a smooth transition back into your daily life at home?
1. Stay connected with friends and contacts you made while studying abroad
The bonds you formed abroad don’t have to end once you return home. Reach out to each other and check-in; especially shortly after returning home. It’s likely those individuals you spent months alongside in Barcelona are experiencing similar sentiments as you upon returning. Ask your peers how they are re-acclimating to life at home, what’s been new/different, and what goals they’re currently working towards. Schedule monthly Facetime/Skype calls to stay connected! Or even better, plan a yearly trip to see each other IRL.
Did you know Barcelona SAE has set-up a platform for alumni to stay connected? Be sure to join the Barcelona SAE Alumni Network on LinkedIn. And, add any important connections you made abroad directly to your LinkedIn network to stay in touch!
2. Keep your Barcelona experience alive through cultural activities and news
Build some habits into your new routine to stay on top of Barcelona happenings. Whether it’s drinking “cafe con leche” to start your mornings, reading local news stories, or following FC Barcelona games, don’t let your experience end after leaving Barcelona! Bonus tip: try making your own pan con tomate
Incorporating habits from your time in Barcelona into your daily life in the U.S. will help merge the two worlds and keep the experience alive. In addition, here are some great resources for staying up-to-date on local Barcelona news:
3. Find avenues to share your experience with others
Did you have a life-altering study abroad experience and want to help others do the same? There are a number of ways to share your experience and encourage others to engage in cross-cultural experiences. Start by checking with your university’s study abroad office and see where you can help—offer to share photos you took abroad and a testimonial. Is your university hosting an upcoming study abroad fair? Offer to attend and share what it was like from a student’s perspective.
Want to encourage more students to study abroad with Barcelona SAE? Share your experience and build professional cred— apply to be Barcelona SAE Alumni Ambassador.
4. Attend a study abroad conference near you
A study abroad re-entry conference is the perfect way to not only connect with other travelers who want to hear your stories and talk about your travels, but to learn how to best adjust to re-entry, become an advocate for study abroad, learn how to market your experience to potential employers, get information on going abroad again, or get information on joining the field of international education. You have had a life-changing experience, now learn how to process it and use it to your benefit!
Study Abroad Conference Information for Alumni
Final reminders for dealing with reverse culture shock:
Ultimately, be kind to yourself as you make the transition back to daily life and give yourself time to go through all the stages. Try not to compare the two places, but instead, be grateful for how the places and experiences have transformed you. Remember that while this specific experience has come to an end, the lessons you’ve learned will last a lifetime. And, if you start longing for another adventure, Barcelona is always calling!
“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” – Marcel Proust
We hope these tips help you adjust to your daily life in the U.S., while still keeping your Barcelona experience alive. If you have any trouble dealing with reverse culture shock, know that the Barcelona SAE staff is always here for you and you can contact us at any time.