Returning To Campus
Visit the Center for Global Education upon your return to
Butler. Leave your new contact information with our office, should
the need arise for us to contact you concerning your study abroad
credit. Also, keep an eye out for Butler's Annual Photo Contest and
the Welcome Back Session for Recently Returned Students. You may
also want to get involved with the International Club on campus or
other organizations in the community to stay involved with
international issues and/or to continue honing your language
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Obtaining Academic Credit
Though you have lots to consider when preparing to return home,
resolving any remaining course approval concerns should be at the
top of your list. Ideally, you should have obtained approvals for
all the courses you took abroad and submitted the form to the
Center for Global Education before you departed. If you did not, or
you took other courses while abroad, you should complete a
Study Abroad Course Approval form upon return. The
Office of Registration and Records processes transfer credit when
ALL course approvals have been submitted and your official
transcript has been received. Transcripts from abroad generally
arrive two months after the end of the program. When we have the
required documents, we review the transcript and the forms on file
and notify you if you are missing a course approval. When you have
submitted any missing course approvals and the file is complete,
the Office of Registration and Records will post the courses taken
abroad according to the BU course equivalents indicated by the
Adjusting To Your Return
Just as you experience some form of culture shock during your
first weeks in your host country, you may experience another period
of adjustment upon your return to your home country. Many students
do not expect to have difficulty when they come home, especially
since they are returning to familiar surroundings and people. But
do not be surprised if you are a little disoriented at first. The
study abroad experience has enabled you to grow and it has
distanced you from your home country, geographically and
culturally. You will find you may have a new and different
perspective on life in the United States.
Reentry is a time for reflection on your summer/semester/year
abroad. You may feel your emotions are taking you on a
roller-coaster ride, with high highs and low lows. This is normal
and part of the process. Everyone has different experiences and it
is normal to question yourself, make comparisons and re-examine
your beliefs and values. In doing so, there are some suggested
questions you may wish to consider and think about, to help you
through your return adjustment.
- How did your expectations differ from your actual
- What was the most important thing you learned while
- What was the most important thing you learned about yourself
- Do you think your goals were realistic?
- Did your goals change while abroad?
Be sure to attend the Reentry Meeting & Welcome Back Party
upon your return to campus. This meeting will give you an
opportunity to share your overseas experience with other study
abroad returnees and with the Center for Global Education.
Dealing With Return Culture Shock
Don't be surprised that many of your friends and family may not
understand what you have experienced, and may not demonstrate the
level of interest in your semester or year abroad that you had
Use diplomacy in raving about your host country.
Avoid criticizing the United States and always comparing it to
your host country.
Don't impose your cultural changes on others.
Seek out your good friends and share both the joys and
Listen to those who have remained at home; they will also have
stories to tell.
Consider the techniques you used in adjusting to your host
country and use those same strategies.
When asked stereotypical questions, respond with cultural
Always rely on a sense of humor!
Stay physically healthy since stress may cause you to be unduly
tired, easily depressed or subject to minor illnesses.
Spend time alone to sort out your feelings, to set new goals and
priorities, to put things into perspective and to separate the
lasting benefits from the casual impressions.
Meet with other returning students to share experiences and
advice on readjustment issues.
Join a cultural or language club on campus, and stay
Extend hospitality to foreign students, faculty and visitors on
Keep up on developments in the host country. One of the best
parts of an overseas experience is the friends made. Write to them
and invite them to the United States. Make every effort to keep the
friendships as strong as they were when abroad.
Preparing To Return Home: Quick Tips
By Dr. Bruce LaBrack
Reentry into your home culture can be both challenging and as
frustrating as living overseas, mostly because our attitude toward
going "home" is that it should be a simple matter of getting
resettled, resuming your earlier routines, and reestablishing your
However, world wide reentry has its own set of special social
and psychological adjustments which can be facilitated by being
aware of the reentry process and following some advice from those
who have already returned.
The following list is compiled from many sources, but all of the
tips come from returnees who offer these ideas in the hope of
making your reentry easier for you and for those at home.
- Prepare for an adjustment process.
The more you consider your alternatives, think about what is to
come, and know about how returning home is both similar to and
different from going abroad, the easier the transition will be.
Anticipating is useful. As one psychologist put it, "Worrying
- Allow yourself time.
Reentry is a process that will take time, just like adjusting to a
new foreign culture. Give yourself time to relax and reflect upon
what is going on around you, how you are reacting to it, and what
you might like to change. Give yourself permission to ease into the
- Understand that the familiar will seem
You will have changed, home has changed, and you will be seeing
familiar people, places, and behaviors from new perspectives. Some
things will seem strange, perhaps even unsettling. Expect to have
some new emotional and psychological reactions to being home.
- There will be much "cultural catching up" to
Some linguistic, social, political, economic, entertainment and
current event topics will be unfamiliar to you as new programs,
slang, and even governmental forms may have emerged since you left.
You may have some learning to do about your own culture. (Note:
most returnees report that major insights into themselves and their
home countries occur during reentry).
- Reserve judgments.
Just as you had to keep an open mind when first encountering the
culture of a new foreign country, try to resist the natural impulse
to make snap decisions and judgments about people and behaviors
once back home. Mood swings are common at first and your most
valuable and valid analysis of events is likely to take place after
allowing sometime for thorough reflection.
- Respond thoughtfully and slowly.
Quick answers and impulsive reactions often characterize returnees.
Frustration, disorientation, and boredom in the returnee can lead
to behavior that is incomprehensible to family and friends. Take
some time to rehearse what you want to say and how you will respond
to predictable questions and situations; prepare to greet those
that are less predictable with a calm, thoughtful approach.
- Cultivate sensibility.
Showing an interest in what others have been doing while you have
been on your adventure overseas is the surest way to reestablish
rapport. Much frustration in returnees stems from what is perceived
as disinterest by others in their experience and lack of
opportunity to express their feelings and tell their stories. Being
as a good a listener as a talker is a key ingredient in mutual
- Beware of comparisons.
Making comparisons between cultures and nations is natural,
particularly after residence abroad; however, a person must be
careful not to be seen as too critical of home or too lavish in
praise of things foreign. A balance of good and bad features is
probably more accurate and certainly less threatening to others.
The tendency to be an "instant expert" is to be avoided at all
- Remain flexible.
Keeping as many options open as possible is an essential aspect of
a successful return home. Attempting to re-socialize totally into
old patterns and networks can be difficult, but remaining aloof is
isolating and counterproductive. What you want to achieve is a
balance between maintaining earlier patterns and enhancing your
social and intellectual life with new friends and interests.
- Seek support networks.
There are lots of people back home who have gone through their own
reentry and understand a returnees concerns - academic faculty,
exchange students, international development staff, diplomatic
corps, military personnel, church officials, and businessmen and
women. University study-abroad and foreign student offices are just
a few of the places where returnees can seek others who can offer
support and country-specific advice.
Compiled by Dr. Bruce LaBrack. School of International
Studies, University of the Pacific for use by the Institute of
International Education, San Francisco. Aspire Newsletter, Spring
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