Almost all students who study in foreign countries experience some degree of culture shock in reverse, particularly when they return home after having studied in Australia for a period of time.

You may find the adjustments even more painful and difficult than those you made when you first arrived in Australia, partly because it may come to you as a surprise. Among the problems associated with returning home are those of identity and insecurity, adjustments in life-style and interpersonal relationships.

While in Australia, it is likely you will adapt to the Australian way of life. Students often experience greater individual freedom living away from their families. Having to conform again to the expectations of family and society may cause some frustration. Special Graduation and Beyond sessions are organised during your final semester. These give you an opportunity to consider how you have changed and assist in making a smooth transition from study to life back home. Feel free to discuss any issues related to settling in, homesickness and cultural adjustment with an International Student Advisor.

What can you expect when you get back?

The following information is adapted from a list originally created by Dr. Bruce La Brack as part of an Online cultural training resource for study abroad at the School of International Studies, University of the Pacific.

 Top challenges for returnees at home:

Boredom A return to family, friends, and old routines (however nice and comforting) may seem very dull. It is natural to miss the excitement and challenges, but it is up to you to find ways to overcome such negative reactions. For example, try new things, travel domestically, and continue cultural and linguistic studies.
No one wants to hear You may find that no one will be as interested in hearing about your adventures and triumphs as you will be in sharing those experiences. This is not a rejection of you or your achievements, but be realistic in your expectations about how fascinating your journey is going to be for everyone else.
You can't explain Even when given a chance to explain all the sights you saw and feelings you had while studying abroad, it is likely to be at least a bit frustrating trying to relay them coherently. It is important to know that this is a common experience.
Reverse culture shock Just as you may have missed home for a time after arriving in Australia, it is just as natural to experience some reverse homesickness for the people, places, and things that you grew accustomed to as a student abroad. Keeping in touch by phone, email etc. can reduce the feelings of reverse culture shock, but feelings of loss are an integral part of international sojourns and must be anticipated and accepted as a natural result of study abroad.
Relationships have changed Upon your return home, you may notice that some relationships with friends and family will have changed. Just as you have altered some of your ideas and attitudes while abroad, the people at home are likely to have experienced some changes that are very important to them. These changes may be positive or negative, but expecting that no change will have occurred is unrealistic. The best preparation is to maintain flexibility, openness, minimal preconceptions, and tempered optimism.
People misunderstand You may find that some people may misinterpret your words or actions. For example, what you may have come to think of as witty humour (particularly sarcasm, banter, etc.) may be considered as aggression or boasting. New clothing styles or mannerisms may be viewed as provocative or inappropriate. Be aware of how you may look to others and how your behaviour is likely to be interpreted.
Feelings of alienation Sometimes the reality of being back home is not as you expected and some returnees develop critical eyes - a tendency to see faults and become quite critical of everyone and everything for a time. Although you may constantly be making mental comparisons, it is important to realise that this may decrease as you regain a balanced perspective.


Last updated 16/05/2014 

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