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Returning From Abroad

Reverse Culture Shock and Cultural Readjustment

After returning to the US from a study abroad program, many students experience reverse culture shock to some degree and may need time for cultural readjustment. This is frequently more typical of students who have been abroad for longer periods of time. 

Being abroad exposes travellers to new and differing viewpoints, lifestyle changes, values, and experiences, and often the person returning from abroad has changed significantly.

Some returnees can find it challenging to re-adapt to living and studying in the US and experience difficulty getting back into the swing of things. Common feelings experienced upon return home could include, anxiety, isolation, boredom, depression, and restlessness, for example.

Returnees who experience difficulty culturally readjusting often find it comforting and helpful to speak with other students who have gone abroad, CGIS staff, or even a counsellor. UM Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) offers counselling for students.

Reverse culture shock and cultural readjustment resources:

Connecting with the International Community 

There are a number of ways for study abroad returnees to connect and engage with the international community on campus upon return. Many departments and associations host internationally-focused events and activities and are an excellent way to connect to the international community and global opportunities.

At CGIS

CGIS Newsletter

With so much happening on campus within the U-M international education community, our newsletter is a great resource that can provide information on new study abroad programs, internships, custom info sessions, upcoming events, job opportunities, and so much more! Subscribe today! 

Social Media

Connect with CGIS and share your study abroad photos, videos and stories as well as learn about upcoming events and activities (more info on this at Sharing Your Experience). CGIS also runs Instagram Takeovers periodically. Contact Communications Specialist Stephen Gonzalez (sgonzal@umich.edu) for more info.

CGIS Exchange Buddies

Students who have participated in a CGIS program have the opportunity to connect with incoming international students during the summer. The program places UM students and exchange students in small "pods" of 4-6 students with the goal of fostering cultural connections and understanding, sharing resources and making friends. 

CGIS sends annual email invitations to this program to students who participated in a CGIS study abroad program within the last year. If you went abroad over a year ago and are still interested in the program, please contact Sarah Pauling (spauling@umich.edu).Campus Units & Organizations

English Language Institute: Conversation Circles

Conversation Circles are a volunteer program sponsored by the English Language Institute (ELI), which was started more than thirty years ago to promote intercultural exchange and to provide international students and scholars at U-M with opportunities to practice English in an informal, casual setting. In each Conversation Circle, a small group of non-native speakers of English (up to 6 people) are paired with a highly fluent English-speaking volunteer facilitator for a weekly hour-long conversation.

International Center

  • Cultural and Social Events: Throughout the year the International Center (IC) organizes a variety of cultural and social events on campus. 

  • International Education Week: International Education Week (IEW) is an opportunity to celebrate the benefits of international education and exchange worldwide. This joint initiative of the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education is part of efforts to promote programs that prepare Americans for a global environment and attract future leaders from abroad to study, learn, and exchange experiences. CGIS also hosts events during IEW.

International Institute

Established within the College of LSA, the International Institute (II) stimulates research and teaching on critical areas of the world and on international issues that cut across world regions and disciplines. The II fosters cooperation among the university’s departments, schools, and colleges.

Since its launch in 1993, the II has developed and supported international teaching, research, and public affairs programming that helps students and faculty see the world through a global lens. 

The II houses 17 centers and programs focused on specific world regions and global themes. II centers frequently host campus programming and events. 

UM Student Organizations

A number of UM student organizations have an international focus. Groups range from the Russian Club to the Brazilian Zouk Dance Club to Animania: The Japanese Animation Film Society.

UM International Programs in Engineering (IPE): International Buddy Program

Remember your first few days abroad? Did you have students or staff from the host institution available to assist with adjusting to the local culture? The International Buddy Program (IBP) was created so that you can return the favor. It’s a student organization made up of U-M students who strive to help incoming international and exchange students in the College of Engineering acclimate to Michigan life. 

Foreign Language Study

One way to connect to the international community and stay involved with the culture of a country you visited is to study a foreign language on campus.

Language Resource Center

The Language Resource Center (LRC) is a computer lab, study and meeting space, as well as a library for foreign language materials. The LRC can also help organize conversation partners as well as language tutoring for students who would like to improve their foreign language skills.

In particular, some of the larger language units on campus are:

For other language departments, please see the UM Language Department Directory.