Carnegie Mellon University

Exercises to Explore Transition

Once students recognize that reentry or reverse culture shock is a common experience, they can begin to take steps to reverse it.  It is important that returned students embrace their new feelings and work to integrate their old and new personas.  Patience is also key- significant changes cannot happen overnight.  We recommend the following exercises to ease transition home:

  1. Start your exploration of home through sympathetic friends or family members. Share with them some of the feelings you have had while living overseas. Sharing feelings instead of experiences sounds less like bragging.
  2. Find informants about the United States just as you did about your overseas country. Be the learner. Ask questions about current issues: the price of common products and services, popular entertainment, politics and US foreign policy, the effect of recent changes on the society. Don’t let your new attitudes, values, and perceptions block that learning process.
  3. Explore places where you might find others with international experience, or seek foreign nationals with whom you can speak the language you’ve learned and continue to share common experiences you’ve enjoyed. Contact OIE to see if there are students at Carnegie Mellon from the country you visited. You may want to connect with these students in an informal way to continue your connections to that culture, maintain your language skills, and generally extend your abroad experience back in the US.
  4. Attend welcome back programming and participate in opportunities on campus designed specifically for returned study abroad students.
  5. Talk to a counselor from Counseling and Psychological Services (CaPS) or meet with a study abroad advisor.
  6. Meet with your career consultant in the Career & Professional Development Center to discuss integrating your new interests into your future career goals.
  7. Continue studying your host language.
  8. Reflect on your experiences abroad by creating a photo or scrapbook or writing in a journal. Share your photos and stories with others through OIE.
  9. Be as open-minded and creative through the re-entry process as you were while studying abroad.