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Returned Students

Welcome back! We've compiled some resources just for study abroad returnees! This page includes:

Re-Entry Adjustment

You spent a lot of time preparing to go abroad, but what does coming home mean?! Study abroad research has shown that coming home can be more unsettling than going abroad! You may find that you have changed a great deal, but everything/everyone at home seems the same. Some common re-entry challenges/questions to ask yourself are:
Are you bored?
  • Returning home can seem boring. No longer are you living in a place where so many things are new and exciting! It's natural to feel bored but you have the power to overcome that! Look for ways to maintain that excitement back at home: explore new restaurants, watch foreign films and documentaries, get involved in local groups/organizations
No one wants to hear "when I was in..."
  • Family and friends will be interested in your stories for a little bit, then they'll start to lose interest or get annoyed with, "when I was in..." This isn't meant to hurt you but they haven't experienced what you did so they lose interest faster. Stay connected with your friends from abroad; they'll want to relive those days! 
Missing what you considered your new home? 
  • Just like how you probably missed home when you first got abroad, it is perfectly normal to miss the place that was becoming your new home. Again, stay connected with your new friends, host family (if applicable). A way to help is to follow social media accounts for your host country, city, university to stay connected. 
Do relationships feel like they've changed?
  • When returning home, it is inevitable that some of your relationships will have changed. Just as you have learned/grown/explored new ideas, so have people at home. Everyone goes through different things. These changes to your relationships may be positive or negative but expecting no change to occur is unrealistic. Be honest and open in your communication. 
Some people may say you changed (and not for the better) or they don't understand...
  • Sometimes people will only see negative changes when you get home. You may hear, "do you think you're better than us for having studied in ..." or "you weren't here so you wouldn't understand what happened..." You may have changed how you act in certain situations, how you dress, communicate, etc. These feelings may come out of your family's/friend's jealousy, fear, or feelings of superiority/inferiority. You cannot control their reactions but you should try to be aware of your changed behavior and how others may interpret it. If you feel it is safe, having an honest conversation can be the best way to work through these thoughts and feelings. 
What once didn't bother you, now does...
  • Do you have "critical eyes" for the place you call/have called home/the USA/etc.? Are there things that you never noticed before that now stand out? This is normal. You've seen life in a new culture and that can sometimes make you reflect on your own culture. It is important to realize that neither culture is right or wrong in how things are done. Take time to reflect and write down what has made you go "hm, interesting?"
  • It can be hard experiencing a new culture for a long period of time. When you get home, that may be the first time you decompress and "unpack" emotions of things you saw/experienced. This is all very normal as well. We encourage students to reach out to Counseling Services or a local therapist to talk through these emotions. It can be a lot, but you are not alone.
Are you afraid of losing those memories
  • When you get home you will be immediately thrown back into school, jobs, friends, family, newest social media, etc. It is normal to fear losing those memories you just created. Journal, blog, vlog, stay in touch with new friends, etc. to keep reliving those memories. 
Am I alone in this?
  • No! You're not alone in any of these feelings! Some resources to help you learn from others who've been where you are
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What is Reverse Culture Shock

Reverse culture shock is all of the above and often an unanticipated, unsettled feeling you experience upon returning to your home culture. It is very common among study abroad returnees, and it is often more intense than the culture shock you may have experienced when you first went abroad. Reverse culture shock is a normal part of the re-adjustment process and can hit you at any time when you get home. Some students experience it right away, others may not experience it for a few months. 
reverse culture shock emojiYou may remember the cultural adjustment curve which illustrates the stages of cultural adaptation. The curve can be extended to demonstrate the phases of reverse culture shock. The stage of initial euphoria after returning home can quickly turn to critical feelings about home. Eventually you will recover and reintegrate into your home culture. Reintegrating doesn't mean you lose the experience, instead, you learn to navigate your home culture with the new skills and personal growth from your experiences abroad.    

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Ways to get involved in the CIE

Now that you're back in the states (and maybe at UWEC), there are many ways for you to keep your international experience alive. We automatically add any study abroad returnee to a once-a-month e-newsletter that highlights a variety of content, including ways to get involved in the following:
Study Abroad Orientation (fall & spring)
Volunteer to help at orientation to prepare the next students studying where you did! If we have students for your program, we'll email you asking for volunteers. 
Study Abroad Fair (fall)
We always need volunteers to help at the fair! This is a great way to share all of your experiences! The Fall 2024 Fair will be on Thursday, September 19. 
Participate in the Study Abroad Photo Contest (fall)
Each year we hold a photo contest and if you participated on a UWEC program, you can participate! Grand prize is a canvas of your winning photo! Plus, the top 100ish photos will be displayed in Davies Center, 3rd floor. Contest is open in October! Watch your email for information about when the contest opens. Click here for more photo contest info and to enter!
Study Abroad Interns
This is a paid position in the CIE. Earn $11/hour; expected 5-10 hours a week. Interns will share their study abroad experiences with students by holding virtual and in-person advising appointments, holding information sessions, attending promotional events, assisting with INTS 145 (the study abroad orientation class), and much more! To be considered, you need to have studied on a CIE study abroad program, be enrolled for the semester you are applying for, have a GPA of at least 2.5, and be in good academic standing. To learn more and to apply, see Handshake and search for "Study Abroad Internship." 
Leonard & Dorellen Haas Scholarship Recipients
There is a UWEC Foundation Scholarship specifically for returned study abroad students! Up to twelve recipients are chosen each year and each receives a $250-$500 scholarship. Recipients are required to participate in a variety of study abroad related events/promotions. Applications will be available late spring semester and students do need to be continuing enrollment at UWEC in order to be eligible. Preference is given to students who studied abroad for a semester or more. More information is found here
Buddy Program
Volunteer for the Buddy Program and be paired with an incoming international student! Domestic and current international students are welcome to volunteer. While you don't have to be a returnee, we find that returnees make GREAT buddies, after all, you know how it feels! You'll be expected to help your buddy transition to being a student at UWEC by meeting with them at least twice a month, minimum of five hours per month. The CIE will have events/ideas for how to engage together. Volunteers are eligible for 15 hours of service learning. To learn more and to apply to be a buddy, click here.

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Ways to get involved on campus

Join a campus club/organization with an international focus
There are many clubs/organizations that have an international focus. This is great way to keep your international interests alive and meet other like-minded students. See the UWEC Student Orgs website for more information.
Volunteer or attend CultureFest (spring)
CultureFest brings the community together to celebrate many diverse cultures. It takes place in Davies Center, each spring. 

Ready to Go Abroad Again?!

Below are resources for how to go abroad again. The CIE doesn't officially work with any of the organizations listed and these are only provided as resources to start your exploration.
Teaching English Abroad
This is a common way many recent graduates go abroad again. While there are a plethora of ways to teach English abroad, it is important to be cautious. Be sure you research the company/organization you decide to work with. Read all contracts in fine detail. Websites like have resources to help you understand - use them! Some organizations to consider (but not limited to):
Short-term experiences
Some countries have working holiday visas or programs to help you work/travel abroad. Again, it is important to understand the process and details when exploring these options. Many work/holiday visas require YOU to find employment either before or after your abroad. Again, the CIE doesn't advise on these options. 
Long-term volunteer abroad
Prestigious Scholarship Opportunities
  • Boren Award:
    • Award: Up to $30,000 to add an important international and language component to their graduate education through specialization in area study, language study, or increased language proficiency.
    • Deadline: February
    • Eligibility: Either enrolled in or applying to a graduate degree program at an accredited U.S. college or university located within the United States. To receive the award you must provide evidence of admission and enrollment in such a program. Boren Fellows must remain enrolled in their graduate programs for the duration of the fellowship.
  • Critical Language Scholarship Program:
    • Award: Airfare, tuition, room and board, cultural program expenses, overseas health benefits, and applicable visa fees for study at intensive summer language institutes in one of thirteen critical foreign languages, as identified by the U.S. State Department
    • Deadline: mid-November for the following summer
    • Eligibility: Applicants must be U.S. citizens and currently enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate degree program at a U.S. college or university?
  • Fulbright U.S. Student Program:
    • Award: Full support for an academic year of teaching English, graduate level study, or research abroad. These federal grants for study, research and teaching assistantships are intended to increase mutual understanding between the people of the U.S. and other countries through the exchange of persons, knowledge and skills.
    • Campus Deadline: September 23 for grants beginning the following fall.
    • Eligibility: U.S. citizens, undergraduate degree completed prior to beginning of award, no significant experience in country to which applying (does not include undergraduate study abroad).
    • Campus contact: Anna Dresnack ( For more information, also see our website.
  • Marshall Scholarship (U.K.):
    • Award: A scholarship for graduate study at a British university; 40 awarded/year.
    • Marshall Scholarships allow U.S. citizens to study for two or three years in the United Kingdom. The scholarship covers tuition, fees, room, board, books, and transportation to/from the U.S.
    • Deadline: October for the following academic year.
    • Eligibility: Those under 26 with minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.7 are eligible. Most winners intend academic or public service careers.
  • Gates Cambridge Scholarship (Cambridge, England):
    • Sponsor: Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
    • Award: full cost of study at Cambridge University, including tuition, fees, a maintenance allowance and airfare.
    • Deadline: Early October
    • Eligibility: Applicants from all countries except U.K., undergraduate degree completed prior to beginning of award, outstanding academic record.
  • Rhodes Scholarship (Oxford, England):
    • Award: University tuition, fees, insurance, personal stipend, and transportation to/from the U.S. for two or three years of postgraduate study at Oxford University
    • Deadline: Early October
    • Eligibility: Open to U.S. citizens under 24 years of age. Most applicants are seniors. Outstanding academic and extracurricular records.
  • University of Illinois Fellowship Finder Database: 
    • ?More than 1,100 curated listing of grants and fellowships for graduate students. Search by "research/study abroad" or "foreign language training" to find internationally-related awards.  
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Alumni Advice

Jennifer Sallis
A 1992 UWEC graduate with a major in French and a minor in Spanish, Jennifer has had a career in international business, working for General Motors, L'Oreal and Ralph Lauren. In March 2017, she presented, Translating "I Studied Abroad": From Classes to Career.pdf to current UWEC students. You can read more about Jennifer's career here.

If you are a UWEC alum, who studied abroad, and want to share how study abroad has propelled you forward in your career, please email

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