As you transition back to life in the United States, you may want to continue interacting with the French people, do further study on French issues, work in a bilingual environment, or even study abroad again in France or another country. One advantage of study abroad is that it can offer you a more global perspective and expand your mind. So, don't forget to consider other opportunities outside of France as well.
1. Post–Study Abroad Advisement
After you begin to readjust to being back home, visit your academic advisor. S/he will be able to inform you of whether your study abroad credits from France will transfer properly. Even if you are not planning on using those credits toward your graduation, the records are still important and may be needed if you decide to go on and pursue a higher level of education. You should also check with your academic advisor to make sure that you are registered for all of the courses that you need for the upcoming semester, and that you have filled out any financial aid or tuition forms that you will need for that year.
Sometimes studying abroad will affect you to the point where you may decide to pursue another area of study. This meeting with your academic advisor is a good time to discuss any changes that you might want to make to your class selection or even your current major/minor. Your advisor will be able to discuss your options with you and help you decide what the best academic path for you may be.
2. Career Development and Resume
If you are considering a career with a French or international component, or looking for a job abroad, we also recommend that you visit your campus' career center. A campus career center often provides various services for students seeking employment, and this is generally a good place to start looking for international job opportunities in France and in other countries.
When you start looking for a job or career, think of the professional and personal growth you've undergone while in France. If you can present these skills on your resume and in your interview(s) well, you can impress almost any employer. IES, Institute for the International Education of Students, has a useful website that will help you learn to "market" your international experience in France (a link to this site is provided in the Resources section).
To sum up IES's resume tips:
- Make sure your international experience gets noticed by formatting your resume to highlight the French institutions at which you studied, or with separate categories such as "International Education" or "International Experience".
- List any languages that you speak, internships, major projects, or field experience you had in France, in the appropriate categories.
- Briefly describe what you did and the skills and attributes you learned while in France.
- If possible, try to incorporate into your interview some of the significant learning, communication, problem–solving, etc. experiences you had in France.
3. Study Abroad Re–Visited
Some students choose to continue participation in study abroad, either through the same program or through a new program or location. If you are unable to go abroad for another whole semester, there are a variety of programs offered during the summer that range from 3 days to 3 months. Talk to your academic advisor about what other programs might benefit you. For more help, refer to the "Choosing a Program" section of this Handbook.
Also, if you're interested in continuing your study abroad experience, there are many ways to fund research or post–undergraduate studies. For example, the Department of State Fulbright Program, the National Security Education Program (NSEP), Rotary International, the Rhodes Scholarship Program, the Luce Scholarship Program, and the Marshall Scholarship Program are excellent ways to fund your studies abroad. There are many other scholarships out there, as well as on–line scholarship search engines (some of which you can find in the Resources section of this Handbook).
4. Independent Travel
Independent travel is an option for students who feel that they are confident enough to tour on their own. If you decide to travel independently, your student travel office or a travel agent can be helpful. There are numerous travel guidebooks and resources on the Internet. Also, ask friends who have traveled independently to find the best places to go and tips on what to do while you're there. See our Resources section for links to purchasing guidebooks and booking tours.
5. Internships Abroad
You can help you turn your study abroad experience into a useful résumé–builder, and even the start to a future career. Some students have such a positive study abroad experience that they decide that they would enjoy a career that would give them an opportunity to live and work abroad. There are several ways to go about testing out possible careers abroad. One way is to investigate the possibility of doing an internship abroad. This can be an excellent way to not only be able to live abroad again, but also to get experience in a field in which you are interested. Some internships offer a salary; others can count towards college credit. Talk with a career counselor/internship coordinator at your college/university about internship opportunities abroad.
6. Careers Abroad
Some students decide to change their field of study to an area such as international relations, which includes a broad background in international policies, politics and history. If changing your major is a little extreme, try taking some international studies classes or focus in on an aspect of your major that could somehow be incorporated into a career abroad. Many international career opportunities lie in the areas of industry, education, government and the non–profit sector. In many cases, you can begin by seeking employment domestically with a company, firm, or group that has international branches. To gain information on career opportunities abroad, talk with a career counselor at your university.
Volunteering is another great way to go abroad again. There are opportunities available worldwide. In many cases, only short–term commitments are required. However, there are organizations, such as the Peace Corps, that can allow for years of rewarding work abroad. Volunteering can be a good way to defer college loans for a while. Some volunteer programs even give you a modest monthly stipend.
8. Getting Involved
Since you will be aware of the challenges that come from living and studying abroad, you will be in a unique position to understand the needs of other international students who come to your college/university to study abroad in the United States. Getting involved with international students or organizations can be a great and rewarding way to remain involved in the international community and international affairs. It also affords you the opportunity to share what you've learned with others who can benefit from your experiences abroad.
Here are some suggested ways you can continue your international experience at home:
- Join international student groups or clubs
- Mentor new international students at your college/university, or be a new student orientation advisor for them
- Volunteer to help out in your college/university's international affairs office
- Tutor English to non–native speakers
- Offer to speak to prospective students interested in study abroad, especially those interested in France
- Volunteer or work for community/national organizations, which have an international focus/agenda
- Continue to read on–line news from French newspapers and other French publications
- Attend French cultural events and celebrations in the United States.
- Frequent local French restaurants or cook French recipes at home
- Remain in contact with friends you've made in France via e–mail
9. Relevant Questions
- How is reverse culture shock like a roller coaster ride?
- What are some of the common emotional side effects of reverse culture shock?
- Do all students experience reverse culture shock the same way, at the same time?
- Have you experienced any of Rhinesmith's 10 phases abroad? If so, how did you deal with your feelings? Are you experiencing similar phases now that you are back home?
- How can you avoid feeling frustrated, depressed or discouraged upon return home from the country of your choice?
- How has home changed since you've been away?
- Are you more critical or more accepting of home, and why?
- What are some things you can do to combat stress at home?
- I am already familiar with some major cultural differences between home and the country of your choice.
- I understand that it is normal to experience reverse culture shock, including feelings of anxiety, depression and frustration towards home and the United States.
- If my depression does not go away, I know where to get help (i.e.: a student counselor)?
- I expect to have both good days and bad when learning to overcome my reverse culture shock, and I will be patient with myself as I learn to adapt back to life in the United States.
- I know that I am not alone in how I feel.
- I will try not to be negative or overly critical of United States or a citizen of the country of your choice culture. Instead, I will look for the positives that a culture possesses.
- Upon return home, I will be patient with myself again as I experience reverse culture shock. (This includes trying not to be overly critical of the U.S. just because being home is not like being abroad.)