12 Tips for Returnees Print
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Written by Corina Mihaela Paraschiv   
Tuesday, 03 March 2009 02:12

Returning home after a trip abroad can be difficult.  But here is a short list of 12 things you should know to make your return easier!

 

 

  1. Understand that reverse culture shock is a real possibility and learn to recognize its symptoms so you can offer appropriate support to the returnees.

  2. Realize that returning home is often not a predictable process and can be more stressful than either the returnee or you anticipate. Be prepared to offer support long-distance as the student anticipates coming home. Be sure to continue that support after his or her return.

  3. Understand that most returnees are, in some ways, different than they were before they left home. They may initially seem to be strangers. It is hard to know what their experiences have meant to them and how they have changed. It may be necessary to renegotiate your relationship with returnees, but your history together will provide a basis for this process.

  4. Be aware of your own expectations of the returnees. You may wish that they would just "fit back in" but it is more helpful if you avoid forcing the returnees into old roles and relationships. Allow them space and time to readjust and reconnect.

  5. Be conscious of all those things that have changed at home. Help returnees to understand what has taken place both in the society and among friends and family. Even if they have heard about these events, the impact at home may not have been obvious. You have much to tell them and they can tell you how events at home looked from their overseas location.

  6. Avoid criticism, sarcasm, or mockery for seemingly odd patterns of behavior, speech, or new attitudes.

  7. Create opportunities for the returnees to express their opinions, tell their stories, show their pictures. Listen carefully and try to understand the significance of their overseas experiences. Seek to know what is important to them.

  8. Acknowledge that all returnees experience some sense of loss. Strange as it may seem to others, returnees often grieve for what they have left behind. They may be missing overseas friends, a stimulating environment, the feeling of being special, experiencing greater freedoms or responsibilities, or special privileges.

  9. Encourage the returnees to maintain personal and professional contacts with friends and The Scholar Ship as an institute. They will regret not keeping in touch.

  10. Offer to mark and celebrate the homecoming of the returnee. Discuss his or her preference for how and when to do so. Avoid surprise parties.

  11. Expect some critical comparisons of culture and lifestyle. Keep your responses neutral. It can increase your chances to learn something important about the returnee and how his or her worldview has changed. Don't take his or her comments personally.

  12. Make contact with people who have successfully gone through the experience of returning home and refer the returnee to them. It may help both you and the returnee through a difficult period of adjustments.

 

One important piece of advice we give those at home is to offer to mark and celebrate the return, but to discuss preferences for how and when to do so with the person coming home (item #10). Our advice to you, the returning student, is to decide how you want that event to go and be specific in asking for something you will enjoy.