Studying Abroad: Re-Entry Challenges and Tips

by Heather Robinette /
Heather Robinette's picture
Sep 10, 2018 / 0 comments

Most students who studied abroad over the summer or year have returned home and are starting to adjust back to life at home. While most believe you can easily pick up where you left off, it really isn’t that simple. This phase in the study abroad journey is called re-entry. You will be excited to be home and to see your family and friends, but a part of you will miss the new life you created in a city halfway across the world.

Below are five challenges that are common with re-entry - and some ways to help. 

Studying Abroad: Re-Entry Challenges and Tips
1. Reverse Homesickness

Just as you probably missed home while you were abroad, it is also natural to experience reverse homesickness for people, places, and things you grew accustomed to while abroad. This is very common for most students, especially when they study abroad for longer periods of time. Unfortunately, this is part of the study abroad journey and you will most likely experience it after a few days of being back home. One way to help is to stay in contact with friends you met abroad. If they were also studying abroad, then they’ll understand what you’re experiencing, which can be helpful. Just keep in mind: this is very natural for all students, so you aren’t alone. 

2. No One Wants to Hear about Your Adventures

This one can be a little shocking to some, but not too many people are going to interested in hearing about your adventure abroad. While it was an unbelievable experience for you, it might not be as exciting for someone else. The best advice is to keep your responses brief. I would encourage you to create an elevator pitch about your time abroad that you can share in 60 seconds. This will allow you to share about your experience without overdoing it when your friends and family ask about your time abroad. 

Another way to help with this challenge is to look for opportunities to share your experience with other students interested in going abroad. My school has a study abroad office that holds study abroad fairs in the fall, and throughout the year students who have studied abroad can volunteer to speak with other students interested in going to the same area. This was probably the most fulfilling for me, since I did get the opportunity to speak with a few students who were interested in going abroad. Given their interest, they asked a ton of questions and loved hearing about my experiences. I not only was able to talk about my experiences, but I was able to help influence them to go abroad as well. 

3. You Can’t Explain Your Experience 

Even if you get the chance to explain everything that happened during your time abroad, most won’t understand what you experienced. They won’t have the frame of reference. This is okay, and you shouldn’t worry about it too much. If you come across someone else who also studied abroad, it can be an opportunity to compare your experiences and what you felt. There is a very high chance the other person will completely understand what you mean and be excited to hear about your experience. 

4. Your Old Life Seems Boring

After everything that happened while you were abroad, coming back home to family, friends, and your routines can be comforting, but it can also make you feel like your life is boring. I would encourage you to look at doing something new this semester to help change things up. You can join a club or find a new hobby. I would encourage you to also look for opportunities to share your experience. Going along with #2, this can give you an outlet to share your experiences with other students interested in going abroad and it’ll change things up in your routine. You will just need to find the right balance. 

5. Your Relationships Can Change

This is bound to happen to everyone. After returning home, you might notice some relationships with friends and family have changed since you have returned. Just as some of your attitudes and ideas have changed, this has happened to them as well. Try to keep in mind that life continued forward, even when you were thousands of miles away. While both positive and negative changes will happen, the biggest thing is to make sure you don’t have the expectation that nothing will change. The best preparation is flexibility, openness, minimal preconceptions, and tempered optimism. 

I hope these 5 challenges and tips will help you as you plan for your re-entry. Just remember, no matter how long you are abroad for, all these challenges will most likely be something you face when you return home. It is much better to understand and be able to identify when they happen to you, so you can handle them, versus the challenges making your adjustment twice as hard. 

Best of luck with your re-entry - and just remember your experiences will always be a part of who you are!


Read more: 3 Things That Hold You Back from a Happier Re-entry



Heather Robinette is the London Study Abroad Editor for Wandering Educators. She notes, "During the summer of 2011, I studied abroad for six weeks in London at the University of Westminster with Academics Programs International. I graduated from Kansas State University in Manhattan, KS in December 2012 with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. In May 2018, I graduated from Emporia State University in Emporia, KS with my MBA. I currently work as a marketing manager for a tech start-up in Dallas, TX. While I was abroad in London, I was able to create many unforgettable memories that I will never forget! My study abroad experience helped me gain various skills, but above all else, it helped me to learn more about myself and the world around me." You can find her online at


Click here to read more of Heather's articles about studying abroad in London.