Salem State University
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Salem, MA 01970
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Information for Returning Students

Often, returning home from a study abroad experience can be the most difficult part. When students adapt to their host country easily, it makes it more difficult to get used to being back home.This is called reverse culture shock. Some students feel like they've changed, but everything at home has stayed the same. They may find being at home too confining or confusing. They may miss the culture of their host country, or miss the friends they made. 

Here are the top 10 re-entry challenges study abroad students face:

  1. Boredom
  2. Your friends and family don't want to hear about your experience abroad anymore
  3. You're finding it difficult to explain how studying abroad has affected you
  4. You miss your host country
  5. Relationships have changed
  6. Not everyone thinks you've changed for the best
  7. People don't understand the things you've adopted from your host culture (dress, phrases, etc)
  8. You feel alienated
  9. You feel like you can't use the knowledge or language skills you've acquired
  10. You fear forgetting your experience
It's important to know that these feelings are perfectly normal, and many students returning from a study abroad experience go through the same thing. There are some things you can do to help you re-adjust:
  • Become a study abroad Peer Mentor for the Center for International Education. You'll be able to talk to other students about your experience and encourage them to study abroad. You'll be able to help out at the Study Abroad Fair, informational sessions and tables, the pre-departure orientation, and other events on campus.
  • Get involved on campus with international activities and initiatives
  • Continue studying your host country's language by taking classes at Salem State or on your own (try downloading an app, like Duolingo) 
  • Join a language club
  • Help out at the international student orientation in the summer
  • Read books, watch movies and tv shows, and look for art exhibits that remind you of your host country.
  • If you bought postcards or souvenirs during your time abroad, display them in your room to remind you of your time abroad. Print out your favorite photos and get some frames for them, or make a scrapbook of your time abroad
  • Stay in touch with the friends you made abroad. It's easy to keep in touch via social media, but you can also video chat, write letters, send postcards from your hometowns, or send a care package with things from your hometown (in other words, get creative!). If it's possible, make a plan to visit each other
  • Start planning your next adventure! Even if you won't be able to travel again for a while, you can start planning now. You can also plan a smaller trip to a nearby city or state for a long weekend. The important thing is to give yourself something to look forward to.
  • Act like a tourist in your own town or in a nearby town or city. This might help you find a new appreciation for where you live.
  • Remember to be patient with your friends and family
  • Write about your experience. You can either write for yourself to reflect in a private journal, or for others to read in a blog (your own, or our SSU Study Abroad Blog) or in the Salem State Log
  • If you feel depressed or anxious about being back home and need someone to talk to, make an appointment with Salem State Counseling and Health Services to talk to a counselor about what you're feeling.
After you've returned, don't forget to send your favorite photos to We love to have student photos to display on our Facebook page and website. It's a great way to encourage other students to study abroad!

Be sure to attend the 2017 Lessons From Abroad New England Conference on February 25, 2017 at Bridgewater State University. All students who have studied abroad are welcome!

You can also write a review of your study abroad program on

Other resources:

Salem State University Study Abroad Office