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Reverse Culture Shock

One of the biggest challenges for students who participate in study abroad can be the difficulty in re-adapting to the realities in the United States (otherwise known as “re-entry”). Many students who studied abroad went through many changes, re-examining their priorities, their values, and what they think of themselves and the United States. Upon return, not only is home different from what you are now used to having adjusted to life abroad, but it may also be different from what it was when you left, and different from what you expect it to be like. Your opinions of your host country may have changed following your time abroad, you may feel disconnected to life on campus, or you might feel a sense of loss having left behind friends, co-workers, or your host family. This “reverse culture shock” may be more difficult than the “culture shock” you felt while abroad. If a student is feeling revere culture shock, it is important that they seek help or counseling to help them through the experience. 

Just as culture shock can differ greatly from person to person, reverse culture shock is just as personal of an experience. Upon return to the United States, you may find many things are different from how you left them. You may be more critical of the United States, while you now view your host country in a more favorable light. From language adjustments to depression to a simple trip to the supermarket, reverse culture shock can hit you in more ways that you would expect.  

Here at Tulane, you can access assistance on campus at the Well and CAPS in order to help you handle Reverse Culture Shock. If you find that your career plans have changed because of your experiences abroad, definitely visit a Success Coach or an advisor with the Career Services to talk about next steps in achieving your new professional goals. These staff members can also help you transition back into academic life at Tulane. Finally, you can peruse our returned study abroad students pages that detail the many ways you may find help dealing with reverse culture shock, reintegrating back into life on campus and using your study abroad experience to help you as you apply to graduate school or begin your career search! 

One more way to deal with Reverse Culture Shock is to integrate the things you miss about being abroad into your life back in the United States. You may miss:

  • Meeting new people with different backgrounds from yourself;
  • Exploring the world around you with curiosity and intrigue;
  • Taking trips to new places;
  • Learning about new things and then going out and experiencing them.

Take advantage of all of the ways that you can "Go Global" here at Tulane and in New Orleans to continue your international experience here at home!


State Department Reverse Culture Shock Website 

Diversity Abroad: Reverse Culture Shock

University of the Pacific Reverse Culture Shock Module (Module 2: Welcome Back! Now What?)

SIT Re-Entry Toolkit