I’ve traveled to dozens of countries. This leaves a lot of room for culture shock, yet at times in my traveling life I have felt so lost coming home that I wished there was a ten step self-help program for those who have been challenged with readjustment of being at home after an unbelievable experience abroad. I was often left feeling like a fish out of water…or at least not quite submerged in water because, after all, home is home and you know it. Post travel abroad I had inherited aspects of a new culture, so the water I was used to swimming in simply didn’t quite feel as warm and clear anymore, despite it feeling “familiar.”
Many times upon arriving home, I have wanted to stand up in front of a room of others who had just come home too and boldly say aloud:
“My name is Missy and I have struggled with re-entry.”
Then maybe we could talk about our feelings, hug it out, drink some coffee, and earn a badge after a year of getting through without falling off the re-entry wagon.
The good news is that over the years, I have realized that re-entry is really an opportunity to start something new. It isn’t a door closing – it is actually hundreds of doors opening.
Where do I go next?
As we are bitten by the travel bug in life, we have to consider the next country, the next culture, and the next stamp to push us closer to a new passport. As we think about our career options, having international experience is paramount to differentiating yourself from others in the career rat race, especially if you want to work in international education. Thankfully, there are a growing number of hubs online for that next step in life abroad, and not surprisingly, one of the most well traversed is called Life After Study Abroad. This re-entry resource is for students returning home after studying abroad. It offers a wealth of tips about navigating re-entry shock, stories of students’ returns, and resources about other international opportunities to immerse students into other cultures (and to fill a passport for years).
What I most appreciate about this site is the range of blog posts about ‘all things re-entry’: from the challenges of readjustment to the endless opportunities still meant to be explored, to the advice for how to position your international experience as part of your career pathing. Life After Study Abroad is a place that anyone who has had momentary “re-entry blues” or the big “what’s next” question mark curiously floating above your head can spend hours hanging out and daydreaming about how to process the experience(s) abroad and put tangible steps in place to go abroad again. (And if you need to be reminded of the power of educational travel, read this love letter to the art of sojourning. It is a pretty darn good piece!)
After all, who wouldn’t want to hang out on a site reading about real people who inspire and motivate you to reflect on your time abroad and to consider another path for personal and professional growth overseas.
Little Ol’ Me? An Author?
One of the positive opportunities that this site offers is that you – YES YOU – are invited to write about your time abroad and to offer advise to others about how to make the most of sojourning. Life After Study Abroad IS looking for guest authors. What a treat it is to give back to the field of international education and have a great experience for your resume! Since many of the articles are written by women, I’m pretty confident that they’d be looking for a few good men to join the cadre of writers too. Click here (male or female!) if you’re interested in learning more.
Annual Wrap Up Daydream Fest
When I can’t travel, I read about travel. (How many of you can relate to that?!) The folks at Life After Study Abroad prepared a digital magazine chock full of articles about the art of coming home and the next adventure, whether it be to pursue a graduate level degree abroad, pursue TESOL certification, or to volunteer. It is certainly worth checking out as the home page is full of great photos that link to re-entry articles galore.
Have you poked around on the Life After Study Abroad website? Would love for you to share your comments below!