Reentry and reverse culture shock can be even more difficult for students returning than the culture shock they experienced in the host country. Both students and their friends and family may underestimate the degree to which the students have changed abroad and expect the students to pick up where they were before leaving. Education Abroad and the Office of International Programs as a whole are committed to helping students with this transition.
Below are coping strategies students can employ to readjust to being home.
Just as with culture shock in the host country, the first step to dealing with reverse culture shock is to acknowledge that it is occurring.
Maintaining contact with friends and colleagues met in the host country is an important way to keep in touch with one’s education abroad experience.
The University of Akron sends approximately 200 students abroad each year and plays host to approximately 1300 international students. All of these students will have experiences similar to one’s own and be able to empathize and support the reentry process.
There are a number of ways to be involved in internationally oriented activities on campus. They include:
Internationally and Culturally Based Student Groups
A number of different internationally and culturally based student groups exist on campus, which students can find through OrgSync. These include two advised by members of the Office of International Programs: Foreign Affairs and International Relations (FAIR) and the Korean Language Exchange Club.
Conversation Partners and Conversation Exchange Programs
The University of Akron’s English Language Institute (ELI) offers both the Conversation Partners and Conversation Exchange Programs. The former matches native English-speakers with international students learning English for informal conversations in English. The latter is similar, but will match a student learning a particular language (e.g. Spanish) with an international student who speaks that language natively in order to facilitate language exchange.
Each October, Confucius Institute at The University of Akron sponsors China Week, a series of cultural events, presentations and lectures centered on China.
Education Abroad and the Office of International Programs hold several programs and events throughout the year in which students are welcome to participate.
Education Abroad Forum
The Education Abroad Forum allows returned students to talk about their experiences to and answer questions from other UA students interested in education abroad. Contact: Steven Cook.
Education Abroad Fair
The Education Abroad Fair, held each October, is Education Abroad’s main event of the year to publicize education abroad opportunities to UA students. Education Abroad staff, UA faculty directors and third-party provider representatives are all on-hand to speak to students. Returned education abroad students are welcome and encouraged to volunteer in a variety of capacities. Contact: Steven Cook.
“Integrate Education Abroad into Your Job Search” Workshop
Education Abroad can be a valuable asset in the labor market after graduation. However, studies show that students must be able to present it well and relate it to the potential employer. Education Abroad and the Career Center jointly sponsor and conduct the “Integrate Education Abroad into Your Job Search” Workshop to assist returned education abroad participants accomplish this. Contact: Steven Cook.
Cultural Partner Program
The Cultural Partner Program is an OIP program that pairs internationals at UA with U.S. students, faculty and staff. The partners meet once a week at a time they decide on to share a conversation, have dinner, play sports, watch a movie or anything they would like to do.
International Student Orientation
Each year The University of Akron and the Office of International Programs welcome hundreds of new international students, and OIP conducts a multi-day orientation at the beginning of each semester. Returned education abroad participants are welcome to volunteer as Orientation Leaders. Contact: Jessica Guy.
Northeast Ohio has a number of internationally oriented community organizations with which students may involve themselves. Below is a brief list:
Akron International Friendship (AIF)
Akron International Friendship’s mission is to “[strengthen] academic, corporate, organizational and personal links between Northeast Ohio and the world” and seeks for its volunteers to be “citizen diplomats”. Among AIF’s many activities are hosting international visitors and organizing such events as meet and greet receptions, interfaith and multicultural discussions, and pot luck meals.
Asian Services in Action, Inc. (ASIA)
Asian Services in Action’s mission is “to empower and advocate for Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders (AAPIs); and to provide AAPIs access to quality, culturally, and linguistically appropriate information and services”. It provides low or no-cost services in a number of areas, including translation, community health promotion and youth programming.
Cleveland International Film Festival (CIFF)
Held in March, CIFF “promotes artistically and culturally significant film arts through education and exhibition to enrich the life of the community” and “[presents] the newest and best films from around the world, [doing] everything in [their] power to make sure that [the] audience learns something along the way, about other cultures, about the topic at hand, [and] about the experience from the filmmakers themselves.”
International Institute of Akron (IIA)
“Founded in 1916, the International Institute of Akron (IIA) is a non-profit agency that provides services to the foreign-born in Akron and the Summit County…community. [Their] mission is to contribute to the well-being of our community by creating and implementing programs and services to assist the foreign born to integrate into our society, to promote public awareness of the value of ethnic diversity, and to encourage international communication.”
Through Meetup.com, students can find a number of internationally or culturally themed social groups in Northeast Ohio.