Welcome back! We hope you had a fulfilling experience abroad. We know how hard it can be to re-adjust to normal life after returning home from studying abroad.
Please view the attached manual for all of the information you need to know about returning from your study abroad program, including resources for how to get involved in cultural activities on campus, and how to go abroad again.
Study Abroad Re-entry Manual
Reverse Culture Shock
Upon returning to your home country, you may experience a sense of disorientation or feeling of being out of place. This is called return shock or reverse culture shock. These feelings and the readjustment process associated with them are completely normal, and it is a temporary transitional state than many study abroad returnees encounter.
Culture shock is expected when you go abroad but students usually don’t anticipate how difficult it may be to readjust to their own culture upon return. Typically, students who easily adjusted to their host culture experience a greater sense of return shock than those who had a more difficult adjustment. Part of the difficulty for many students is that it is so unexpected. Being aware about this phenomenon can help you deal with it.
You will find several resources to aid in re-entering life at VCU and opportunities to continue your intercultural learning experience below.
- Visit University Counseling Services: There are a number of staff members at UCS who specialize in cross-cultural issues. The office can be reached at 804-828-6200 or by visiting Room 238 of the University Student Commons.
- Meet up with other returnees: Having someone to talk with about similar experiences can be extremely beneficial in the re-entry process.
- Connect with the Education Abroad office: Our staff has all spent time studying and living abroad, and has lived through the re-entry process. Please feel free to come and speak with a staff member if you have questions or concerns upon returning from your program.
- Connect with international students on campus
- Visit the VCU Career Services office: Learn how to leverage your study abroad experience to meet future academic and career goals
International Buddy Program
We hope you had an amazing time studying abroad and hopefully met students from your host universities that helped ease the transition into the new culture. Now it’s your turn to do the same for an international exchange student here at VCU! Every year, we have about 20 to 30 exchange students through the ISEP and Partnership programs that are here for either a semester or the year. We try to match you up with a student who is from the location where you studied, or who shares similar interests or backgrounds. Try to meet with your buddy on a regular basis. To sign up to be a buddy, contact Sarah Carrier at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Below are some activity ideas and tips on being a buddy:
- Pick up your buddy from the Richmond airport, train station or bus station
- Introduce your buddy to your friends or to student organizations to which you belong
- Introduce your buddy to the Fan District and take a walk down historic Monument Avenue
- Go to Shafer Court Dining Center and eat breakfast, lunch or dinner together
- Go shopping (grocery stores are always a hit!)
- Visit museums in Richmond, like the Valentine House, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, the Science Museum, the Museum of the Confederacy and the Virginia Historical Society, the Anderson Gallery etc.
- Attend VCU Music, Theatre or Dance performances + Go to a VCU basketball games
- Explore Richmond: Go to Belle Isle and the Canal Walk, Go to Carytown and the Byrd Theatre, Try local restaurants, Visit Maymont, Hit up First Fridays
- Show your buddy how to use the GRTC and Pulse
- Take your buddy to the DMV to get a “walker’s license” (Virginia ID card)
- Do other activities such as going to the gym, bowling, billiards, playing cards and going to the movies
Be an English language conversation partner to an international student.
GEO’s Conversation Partner Program provides students and volunteers opportunities to learn about other people, places, and cultures and to make friends from around the world!
VCU's international students and native English speaking volunteers meet for one hour each week to enable students to learn more about American culture, practice English language skills, and gain confidence in their communication abilities. It also provides volunteers an opportunity to serve as a cultural mentor to international students and practice cross-cultural communication skills. Interested students are asked to complete the Volunteer Application Form.
For more information, email ISSP@vcu.edu.