Dealing with Reverse Culture Shock for Students Returning from Study Abroad Programs

Dealing with Reverse Culture Shock for Students Returning from Study Abroad Programs

Amir Manzoor (Bahria University, Pakistan)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9672-3.ch017


When students return from their study abroad programs, they can often feel distress, anxiety, and cultural identity confusion. Many university campuses within the developed world are providing resources to help students deal with these feelings. However, this is not always the case with the universities of developing world. An increasing number of students from developing countries are going abroad for their studies and many of them are part of study exchange programs. It is important for universities in the students' home countries to become abreast of these difficulties and prepare students to deal with them on the university campus. This study uses a large public university in Sindh, Pakistan to determine what kinds of resources are available to study abroad students and the role these resources play in helping students with feelings of reentry shock. The study also provides suggestions to assist in culturally ambiguous situations experienced once students return home.
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Study Abroad And Returning Home

When students first arrive at their study abroad location, they may feel bored, homesick, have difficulties developing and managing changed relationships, and they may be unable to associate within the environment. For example, they may feel lonely or experience feelings of isolation. Students may develop similar feelings after they return home from completing their study abroad program. The feelings of culture shock are normal, and show that, while studying abroad, students were able to develop a new perspective on life (North Western University, 2015). However, the reverse culture shock is very severe and may present more significant challenges even for those students who were able to successfully manage the culture shock (NAFSA, 2015; Maideen & Aminu, 2015). Sussman (1986) and Akhtar & Kröner-Herwig (2015) suggest that students who successfully manage the culture shock can also successfully manage the reverse cultural shock. However, the challenges associated with reverse cultural shocks can be related to the amount of time spent abroad and the degree of cultural differences between the students home country and the foreign destinations (Casteen, 2006; Geary, 2014; Wu, Garza, & Guzman, 2015).

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