Re-entry is the process of returning home after spending time off-campus. Re-entry is often most difficult for students who have studied abroad but it can also be hard for those who have had an intense experience in the United States.

The re-entry process can be more difficult for some than others but almost all students experience some form of reverse culture shock as they return home after an intense semester off-campus. Similar to culture shock, students can find themselves moving through various stages as they work to integrate their time away into their life at home. There are a number of strategies that they can employ to help in this transition process. Please take a moment to review these strategies and find the ones that will work best for you.

Calvin resources

Calvin has a number of resources that you can take advantage of as you make this transition.

The Broene Counseling Center: Free, confidential counseling is offered at Broene for all Calvin students. You might consider this resource if you would benefit from support in sorting through feelings of reverse culture shock (such as anxiety, depression and confusion) or if you would like to talk with a counselor about how to integrate your international experiences with your life back on campus.

Off-Campus Programs Office: Stop by the OCP programs office and share a few stories from your time away.

Service-Learning Center: Many service-learning opportunities in Grand Rapids have an international connection. Stop by the SLC to explore the possibilities of getting involved once you return to campus.

Strategies for Personal/Emotional Re-entry

Share: Make time to show your pictures to others who are interested. Create a photo album with a manageable number of photos to share with others.
Plan: Create a re-entry action plan based on the following statement: I plan to do the following in order to prepare for and deal with the personal/emotional stress I may face upon my return home…
Be aware of the possible challenges of re-entry. Discuss these challenges with your group prior to departure.
Reflect on your time off-campus (i.e. keep a journal of your thoughts, ideas, questions, etc). Here are some possible questions to help you reflect on your overall experience:

- What did a typical day look like for you?
- What was the experience life for you? What was easy? What was hard? What helped you to learn or grow the most?
- Where did you travel and what did you do outside of work/school?
- How did you connect with individuals and groups from the host country?
- I definitely do not want to forget: What made me laugh out loud? What brought tears to my eyes? My biggest cultural gaffe? My biggest cultural success?
- What are three to five things that you enjoyed most about studying abroad?
- What were three to five things that were most difficult while you were abroad?
- What are the lessons you have learned that you never want to forget?
- What are two or three things that you learned about yourself through this experience?
- What new insights did you have about your place in today’s global community?
- What are two or three questions (if any) about the experience that you are still struggling with related to yourself as an individual?
- What are two or three important things about this experience that you want to share with family and friends?
- How could you bring some closure to this experience (photo journal, letter to myself, a presentation to others, etc)?
- What are some skills that you learned?
- What are three recommendations you would make to a fellow student who was going to have a similar experience next year?

Identify others you can talk to upon your return.
Join a support group or talk to someone in the Broene Counseling Center to help you sort out your feelings as you return.
Serve as a contact or resource for future students who are interested in studying off-campus or embarking on similar experiences.
Acknowledge how the experience has changed you. Be open to continuing this journey as you return.
Take the time for closure both with your host country friends and family and with the students who shared the experience with you.

Strategies for Civic Engagement and Social Action

Create a re-entry action plan by answering the following question: I plan to do the following in order to contribute to positive social change on my campus or home community through engagement in my community and my continued involvement with my host country or region?
Stop in the Service-Learning Center (SLC) and explore the opportunities to get involved that connect to issues you explored while studying off-campus.
Identify immigrants from the host country you studied and try to connect with the immigrant community from this region of the world.
Write an article for your local newspaper or college paper about how your experience abroad helped you gain understanding about a particular global issue. What is your perspective about a social issue having lived abroad?
Determine whether community service activities you’ve carried out during the program can be applied to your home community and look into continuing these types of activities at home.
Stay current on world events.

Strategies for Academic Reintegration

Create a re-entry action plan by answering the following statement: I plan to do the following in order to actively integrate my new knowledge, interests and skills into my college experience.
Think about how you can incorporate your study abroad experience as you look to complete assignments in the upcoming semester. Talk to your professors about the possibilities.
Identify professors you can communicate with regarding how your experiences fits with their areas of interest.
Determine if an independent study about some aspect of your recent off-campus experience could be incorporated into your program of study.
Become a member and/or participate in one of the clubs at Calvin with an international theme.
Publish stories or articles about your off-campus experience in campus media sources.

Strategies for Professional Development

Create a re-entry action plan by answering the following statement: I plan to do the following in order to incorporate my new skills and interests into my professional path.
Request a letter of recommendation from your program director detailing the experiences you had while studying off-campus.
Visit the Career Development Office and explore ways you can highlight your off-campus experiences in the job search process. If interested, explore opportunities to work abroad.
Discuss skill development with a career counselor and how to highlight skills and international experiences on your resume.

Resources