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Top 10 challenges upon returning home from a trip abroad

If you have just returned from a trip abroad, you may experience some of the symptoms below, according to Hans Stockton, director of study abroad at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn.
Monday, April 9, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 2:00 p.m. CDT, Monday, June 30, 2008

1

Boredom: After new experiences, familiar routines may lack their usual appeal.

2

Disinterest: Adventures and insight from travel may not be as interesting to those who have not made the trip.

3

Inability to explain: It may be difficult to adequately explain feelings and insight gained from travel.

4

Reverse homesickness: Nostalgia and longing for people and things abroad are as common as initial homesickness.

5

Relationships with friends and family may change: “I advise students to meet up with other students who’ve studied abroad, so they can enter into a dialogue with a sympathetic audience,” Stockton said.

6

Disapproval: Small changes in behavior or ideas may not be well-received. Realize that while you were off on adventures, everybody else had been doing the same things they were before, Stockton says.

7

Misunderstanding: Words and behavior may be misinterpreted.

8

Tendency to compare: Being home may not feel as natural or enjoyable as it had been prior to travel. You might see faults you never noticed before, and some things may not seem “right,” as Stockton says. It is best not to voice comparisons until a balanced perspective is regained.

9

Frustration: There may be a lack of opportunity to apply newly gained social, technical, linguistic and practical coping skills. “Trying to convey abstract concepts or perceptions in a second language forces you to exercise certain areas of your brain, which makes you a better communicator,” Stockton said. “You bring back a skill set, so that others around you can understand you better.”

10

Forgetting the experience: Some travelers worry about forgetting people and events from their time abroad after they return. Maintaining contacts, talking to people who have had similar experiences and practicing new skills can keep the memory fresh. “The key is to integrate your experience into everyday life,” Stockton said.


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