When your child returns home he or she will undergo a variety of emotions. The sight of familiar surroundings will be a relief to some, but being away from a place where they formed strong friendships and experienced many new things will be nostalgic for others. Whichever may apply to your son or daughter, it is not uncommon for them to feel like strangers in their own community. This is referred to as reverse culture shock. Re-entry shock is also a normal and natural part of the study abroad experience. How do you help your child through this stage?
While most of those changes will be positive, some may be surprising. American culture and customs which previously were considered “normal” may now be appalling or bizarre to your child. Give him or her time to adjust to this “new normal.” Let them know you are aware that it may, initially, be difficult to readjust back to the US, home, and college life.
Listen and Observe:
Show an interest in your child’s experience by listening to his or her stories, look at pictures together, and give them time and space to re-acclimate.
Encourage Communication and Involvement:
Encourage your child to stay in touch with friends he or she made overseas and to get involved in internationally related activities at home, on campus, and in the community. There are numerous organizations such as Davidson International Association (DIA), the Timmy Foundation, Dean Rusk Student Advisory Committee (SAC), Davidson Micro finance Club, and the Ada Jenkins Center.
If your child shows an interest in study abroad for a second time, encourage him or her to search for opportunities that will fit into their academic plans. Study abroad shapes students in new ways and will influence their interests and professional aspirations. Davidson College has a vast network of alumni working abroad or on international issues. Making an appointment with the Career Services Office may also be a helpful next step.
Remind Your Child of Resources:
Remind your child that the counseling center at Davidson College is also a valuable resource to help them facilitate the re-entry process. Students are provided with free counseling sessions. Appointments are confidential and can be made by calling 704-894-2451.