Post Study Abroad Culture Shock

Happy Friday, Deac families! Hope you are gearing up for a great and restful weekend!

Yesterday I saw a post on the WFU Counseling Center’s Facebook page. It is an article talking about the culture shock of coming back from a semester abroad, and it is really a good representation of some of the bumps in the transition back to campus. Here is a snippet:

“Just as studying abroad demanded a number of lifestyle changes, so too does returning home. The person you are now returning from abroad is not the same person who left in the first place. You have been transformed intellectually and personally, and have successfully functioned in a culture entirely different from your own. You have new habits, values, and ideas, sometimes without even realizing it!

Family, friends, and neighbors may find it difficult to comprehend the changes you have been through and may expect you to be the same person that left. It can be difficult for them to understand your whole transformative experience, and you may find it hard to balance fulfilling old roles and breaking in new ones. This strain and stress can sometimes invoke a sense of helplessness or a loss of identity. This is what we call reverse culture shock, where you’re learning who you are and how you fit into your culture after returning home from study abroad.”

You can read the full article here.

Back in my day, I did a semester in France via Wake. I definitely felt the post-abroad culture shock when I returned, as did all my friends who were abroad too. To see if this still holds true for today’s students, I talked to a few juniors I know who were abroad in the fall and asked if they had any of the post-return culture shock. To a person, they all had been experiencing it.

Like so many experiences in life, they tend to be less disconcerting if you talk about them with others, especially others who have been in the same shoes. Hopefully this article can offer some help and tips for any of our recently-abroad Deacs and their loved ones.

Have a great weekend, Daily Deacdom!


— by Betsy Chapman ’92, MA ’94


Categories: the daily deac