Back Home (re-entry)

Re-entry Once you get back home (though your definition of home may have changed), review the activities and resources under the ACT --> Back Home section above. 

The re-entry phase, in my opinion, is the most critical stage of your experience in terms of meaning-making, and yet it is often given the least attention. For many students, re-entry is also harder than going abroad. This may seem odd at first, almost counter-intuitive, but the following quote sums it up well to me.

        "Culture shock is the expected confrontation with the unfamiliar; Re-entry shock is the unexpected confrontation with the familiar."

                        -R. Michael Paige quote, Maximizing Study Abroad

To return to 'the familiar' which is not quite so familiar anymore -- or which is now seen through a wide lens of a broadened perspective -- will create dissonance and discomfort. 

If your study abroad program was effective:
You will have changed. 
Your relationships will have changed. 
Your sense of home will have changed. 
Your world view will have changed. 

You have had what seems to be a life-transforming experience, and now you're supposed to return to your home and life and carry on as though you are the same person as when you left? 

That is really hard. Trying to articulate how you've changed and re-integrating with your 'home' life/self is hard. Maintaining some of what you learned abroad can be really hard. Figuring out how to move forward authentically and practically is really, really hard. Re-entry can be hard. It's like "studying abroad hard" was but without the novelty and cool destinations.

Why does this matter? During your time abroad you were reflecting on single critical incidents, and started to reflect on the bigger picture issues. The "while abroad' phase was made up of many experiential learning opportunities.

Now that you're home, it's time to view your experience a little differently. Now consider the entirety of your study abroad experience as one big, grand experiential activity. Then it follows that during your re-entry phase, or after you return home, you will need to spend time reflecting on that experience, continuing to draw out the larger meanings, answering the Big Questions (Who are you now? What did this experience mean to/for you? What do you do now?) and "What does this mean?"

You might consider the Re-entry phase as the time when you focus on putting back together the puzzle of who you are, and create a path for your future that aligns with all the changes you've experienced. (By the way, re-entry, if done well, lasts a life-time.)