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Returned Students

Welcome back! Now that you have returned from a remarkable learning experience abroad, you will find yourself facing a cultural adjustment to life back in the U.S. While this adjustment is different for each student, there are many commonalities in the returned-student experience. In an effort to assist you in identifying, understanding, and readjusting during the process of returning home, the Programs Abroad Office has created Back in the USA 101, a digital Programs Abroad Office re-entry resource packet. In addition to the resource packet, you may also find useful this list of suggestions for Suggestions for Getting Back Involved .

Reverse Culture Shock

Much like when you first arrived in your host country, you may experience culture shock when you return home. Many students look forward to coming home and expect that everything will have remained the same while they were away. Your expectations and reality will probably be different. You have changed, faced challenges, experienced another culture, and learned the positives and negatives of your own culture. Do not be surprised if many of your friends and family do not understand the experience you have had and do not demonstrate the level of interest in your semester or year abroad that you had expected. Re-entry or reverse culture shock is often overlooked or dismissed because few expect problems readjusting to life at home. But it is real, and you are not alone.

The staff in the Programs Abroad Office is here to help you adjust to being back on the UT Knoxville campus. Try some of the following to help with reverse culture shock and get involved.

  • Come to a Re-entry Meeting held at the beginning of fall and spring semester. You will have the opportunity to connect with other returned study abroad students, talk about your experience abroad and any difficulties you are having with re-entry.
  • Apply for a Peer Advisor position or become a volunteer with the PAO to help students interested in study abroad.
  • Take part in the International Buddy Program. Each semester new international exchange students arrive on campus. You can help these students adjust to life at UT Knoxville.
  • Participate in the International Village learning community. UT Knoxville's Housing Office hosts this program. By participating, you have the opportunity to become roommates in the Apartment Residence Hall with one or more international exchange students and enjoy special activities designed to help you get to know your roommate and his/her culture better. 
  • Check out all the exciting and educational events taking place at the International House. Become involved here in Tennessee and keep your "international" experience alive.
  • Join the Study Abroad Alumni Organization (SAAO), a student organization formed primarily for the purpose of providing peer support for returned study abroad students.
  • Remember, re-adjusting to East Tennessee again does not mean giving up one culture for another. Integrate the best of both worlds.


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