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Returning Students

Returnee Meetings

As part of your study abroad program, it is important that you reacclimatize when you come back.  Your Study Abroad program director will contact you about the returnee meetings for your specific program.

Grades & Transcripts

At the end of your semester or year abroad, the foreign host institution or sponsoring organization will send a transcript with your final courses and grades to Study Abroad. Most foreign institutions take a considerable amount of time to process transcripts and it is not unusual for study abroad grades to arrive at our office long after the semester has ended. You should expect a delay in grade reporting of at least 6 to 8 weeks after your program ends. Study Abroad will promptly process your grades and credits and submit them to the Notre Dame Registrar's Office. The Registrar will then record and post this information on your ND academic record.  Consult our FAQs For Returning Study Abroad Students.    

Processing Your International Experience

Returning home from fieldwork or a study abroad experience provides you with an excellent opportunity to consider changes in your perspectives on your host culture, your home culture, and yourself. Below are some questions that may assist you in integrating your experience. If you kept a journal while abroad, you may gain some insights into these changes by re-reading your entries:

About the host culture:
  • What have you learned while in the host culture(s) that you did not know previously? How has this changed your view of the host culture(s)?
  • What were you able to learn about different aspects of the host culture(s) including non-academic areas; for instance, how are children and the elderly treated in the host culture(s)?
  • What stereotypes did you have of the host culture(s) before you lived there? Have these changed in any way?
  • Did you pick up any new stereotypes or biases? Are they valid?
  • If you studied a language, how has that changed your views of the host culture(s)? Is your language study complete or do you need to study it further in order to perfect your language skills and understand the culture?
  • What can you do to continue deepening your understanding of the host culture(s)?
About your home culture:
  • How have your attitudes about your home culture changed? What has caused these changes?
  • By being abroad and able to compare your culture with a different culture(s), what have you learned about the history, values and traditions that make up your home culture?
  • What can you do to continue deepening your understanding of your home culture?
About yourself:
  • How have you changed during the sojourn abroad? Do you feel more confident, independent or cosmopolitan? How can you express these changes to your friends and family in a non-threatening manner?
  • What new skills do you possess? For example: knowledge of a different culture(s), adaptation skills, second-language proficiency, creative problem-solving, tolerance, increased human relations skills, etc.
  • In what ways can you apply what you learned abroad for personal, academic or career-related development?
  • How have your personal values changed because of your experience?

Handling Reverse Culture Shock

Reentry, or reverse culture shock, is a very common reaction to returning home from time abroad. It can range from feeling that no one understands how you've changed, to feeling panicked that you will lose part of your identity if you don't have an outlet to pursue new interests that were sparked abroad. As you go through this transition period, you may find the following tips helpful:

  • Recognize possible symptoms: restlessness, boredom, depression, uncertainty, confusion, isolation, wanting to be alone, missing the people, places, attitudes or lifestyle of your host country, changes in goals and priorities, negativity or intolerance towards the U.S., including American behavior, attitudes, customs and common social practice.
  • The coping skills and strategies that were successful in helping you adjust to your host culture will be just as helpful coming home: get involved, identify a support group of other students, suspend judgment until you understand a situation, keep a journal, and always keep a sense of humor.
  • You may recognize that many of your values and beliefs have changed. Learn to incorporate new and meaningful values and beliefs in your life.
  • Understand that your friendships and relationships might change as a result of your new experiences. Explore new places and people with whom you can share your international experiences.
  • Find ways to take care of yourself and ease into your surroundings. 

More resources to help with reverse culture shock can be found on the Travel & Safety Welcome Home page.

Leveraging What You’ve Learned
 

Professionally
  • Contact the Career Center if you need help identifying internships or jobs that would use your experience abroad; or if you need help incorporating your experience in a cover letter or a resume
  • Write about it!  Submit an article about your abroad experience to The ObserverScholastic Magazine or The South Bend Tribune
  • Stay in touch with your host country: read the local news from your host country on-line; visit the Hesburgh Library newspaper and magazine section
Socially
  • Tour the Snite Museum of Art or the Art Institute of Chicago to enjoy art and artifacts from the country where you studied or traveled
  • Host a program reunion with your fellow returnees
  • Create a photo album or website about your semester or year abroad