The Catholic University of America

Welcome Back!

We at CUAbroad would like to welcome you back to the U.S. and to CUA. Whether you completed a semester, an academic year or a short-term program somewhere around the world, we trust that your education abroad experience was one of the most challenging and unique experiences you have had so far!

Your family, friends and loved ones were most likely very excited to see you again and wanted to hear your stories about the places you visited while away. To assist you with the transition period of getting used to living back in the U.S. again, we have compiled some re-entry advice and solutions to common problems people face upon returning home. We hope that you will find these resources helpful as you adjust and plan your next steps in your education and life after study abroad.


Re-Entry Guide: Life after Study Abroad

Completing Your Experience
Program Evaluation Form
Re-entry Advice
Common Problems and Possible Solutions
Post-Travel Health Recommendations
Get Involved

Completing Your Experience

  • Program Evaluation. Please complete and return your program evaluation to the Study Abroad Center within 30 days after you return Program Evaluation Form.  Email if you have not received a link to the online program evaluation.
  • Reflective Essay. Write an essay of no more than one or two pages that summarizes your experience and reflects on what you have learned while away from home. This essay will be made available - without revealing your name - to other students interested in participating in the same program in the future.
  • Exit Interview. Schedule a half hour appointment for a brief interview with the Director of Education Abroad or the Education Abroad Advisor either in person or over the telephone. It will give you a chance to ask any questions and to provide feedback regarding the program and the services received.
  • Official Transcript. If you receive a foreign transcript at the end of your program, please check with the CUAbroad Office to ensure that your official transcript is received from your host institution and that it is evaluated for transfer in a timely fashion. While abroad - and especially after your return - you will also want to speak with your faculty advisor to make sure that coursework taken abroad is applied properly toward requirements for graduation.

Re-entry Advice

  • Acknowledge re-entry as a part of you overseas experience. It is easier to deal with the mood swings that often accompany reverse culture shock if you are aware that it is normal to have these feelings. Almost all returnees experience some adjustment difficulties.
  • Before you return home, prepare yourself for the adjustment by connecting with family and friends. While away, keep up with what's happening in the U.S. through the media, family and friends. A variety of news outlets are available worldwide and many newspapers are available on the web.
  • It does takes time to get used to being back at home, and at times it can be quite stressful. Do not try to jump back into your old life right away. If possible, give yourself a few "transitional" days to relax and reflect before returning to a busy schedule.
  • If you do find that you are experiencing a great deal of stress, practice stress management techniques: exercise, maintain a healthy diet, get plenty of rest, etc.
  • Keep a journal. This will help you make sense out of what you are feeling, how you - and people around you - have changed, and reflect on what you have gained from your time abroad.
  • Educate your family and friends back home about the process of culture shock and reverse culture shock. It will help if they understand what you are experiencing and why.
  • Keep in contact with friends you made in the host country or during your travels through phone calls, e-mail, etc.
  • Continue to explore the new interests you may have developed abroad. Look for ways to use new skills you may have acquired in your host country. Integrate the new you with the old.
  • Find ways to share your experience with others. Make yourself available to advise other students who will be studying abroad in your host country. Remember that they will be going through the same process of culture shock and adjustment as you did while abroad. You can learn a lot from one another and help each other in the process.
  • Join clubs or organizations that have ties to your host country or that have an international focus.
  • Write an article in the student newspaper about your experience and share it with others.
  • If you find that you miss your host country, go see films, eat the food or listen to some music from that country. Also, you may wish to look at your photo album again and again and re-read your travel journal.
  • Remember the importance of having a support system. It is particularly helpful to form a support group of people who have been through similar experiences. Get together regularly with other returning students and discuss your time abroad and your feelings about being back home. If you still find you are having a great deal of difficulty, seek help from a counselor, psychologist, or study abroad advisor knowledgeable about this topic.
  • Be patient! Re-entry may take some time, but most returnees find the process to be a valuable experience leading to personal growth and increased self-knowledge.

Common problems and possible solutions

Problem: You may feel confused, especially during the first few weeks after your return, because the values, attitudes, and lifestyles you experienced while abroad conflict with those back home.

Solution: Differences in cultural patterns require time to explore and understand. Take time to evaluate both cultural perspectives before deciding on your preferences and integrating them into your lifestyle.

Problem: Family and friends at home do not seem interested in hearing about your experiences abroad.

Solution: Realize that they may be adjusting to changes that have taken place in you. They may never have had an experience comparable to yours and so they may have difficulty relating to it. Be patient and seek out other returnees who can help put your experience in perspective.

Problem: Friends and family treat you as the same person you were before you left, without recognizing the changes you have been through. As a result of these changes, however, you feel a need for new or modified personal relationships that acknowledge the new dimensions of your personality.

Solution: Remember that your friends and family may not have been expecting you to change. They may be uncertain about how you feel and how you have grown. Discuss your feelings with them and try to encourage positive changes in old relationships. Also, seek out new friends who are compatible with who you have become.

Post-Travel Health Recommendations

There are a few health issues you need to consider when returning from travel abroad: If you become ill within 12 months after traveling, make a medical appointment and inform your physician of the countries you visited while abroad. If you have been taking anti-malarial medication, continue doing so for four weeks after you return home.

Schedule an appointment with a health care provider for a sexually transmitted disease check if you were sexually active while abroad.

Remember that your study abroad accident and sickness insurance covers you only while you are abroad, so make sure you have adequate coverage in the United States.

Give Back & Get Involved


Did you enjoy your program abroad? Share your observations and words of wisdom with prospective education abroad students.  Through e-advising and in-person conversations, you can help these students decide which program is best for them. All it takes is a little bit of your time and a lot of enthusiasm. 

Global Ambassadors

The CUA Global Ambassadors is a student organization dedicated to promoting global education among the CUA community. It consists of past and future study abroad participants interested in sharing their experiences abroad. The Ambassadors strive to promote global education and help to prepare students for the adventure of studying abroad.

  • Volunteer on and off-campus and share your experience with friends and other students. Talk with faculty in your department and tell them why your experience was so valuable and why others should also consider studying abroad.
  • English Conversation Partners The Intensive English Program is always in need of conversational partners for international students who are working on their English language skills in order to function as undergraduate or graduate students at the University. Volunteers meet with individuals from other cultures to share information about American culture and University culture in informal conversation for one hour a week. This commitment will contribute to the University-wide service commitment. To register, email Dr. Anca Memoianu, lecturer.

  • Read the CUA Cultural Connections Newsletter which seeks to bring awareness to the CUA community of the culture that is all around us. This newsletter, which is sent to the community on Wednesdays, showcases cultural events at CUA and in the DC area that are accessible to students. The newsletter also provides information about culture and the Catholic Church. This newsletter is sent out to all current students at CUA.
  • Connecting Our World This is where students connect the world through study abroad. Share your questions, travel tips, and fun stories. Explore how study abroad changes and inspires lives. Discover a bigger picture about why studying abroad is so important in today’s world. 
  • Glimpse Glimpse's mission is to share stories that encourage readers to understand and care about other cultures, changing the way young Americans think about the overseas experience and challenging them to explore real life abroad. Formerly an education abroad magazine published mostly for student audiences, now an online-only publication supported in part by National Geographic Society, Glimpse announced in February of 2009 its newly re-launched website, which offers expanded opportunities for students to connect with peers and share stories about real life abroad. Take a look here:

    On the new, students from around the country can share photos and stories, start a blog, enter a photo contest, or leave an Insider Tip about living abroad. Learn about all our sharing opportunities here:

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Re-entry Events

Attend the Annual Re-Entry Gathering!

CUAbroad would like to offer a warm welcome back to all past participants! We trust that the semester abroad experience was both challenging and rewarding experience for you.  To assist with the transition period of getting used to living back in the U.S. again, we would like to invite you to attend our annual re-entry gathering.  Refreshments will be served, and representatives from Career Services may be on hand to talk with you about applying your education abroad experience to your future career.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016
4:00-5:00 p.m.
McMahon 110


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Work for Us

Marketing Assistant Position

Positions are available in the CUAbroad Office for students who have a strong desire to help other students learn more about study abroad and to assist them prepare for the experience. We provide students with invaluable work experience and, upon successful completion, a letter of recommendation and/or reference for future employers.

These positions are available to both undergraduate and graduate students. All applicants must be full-time students at in good academic standing at the time of application. Interested students are required to work no more than 10 hours a week and are often asked to perform a variety of duties outside normal business hours designed mostly to promote programs on campus. Supervision and training is provided.

Necessary qualifications and skills: Excellent communications skills, friendly and outgoing personality, with good public speaking ability. Experience with Microsoft Office is required, additional software skills such as PageMaker, PhotoShop, Front Page are desirable but not required. Good organizational skills and attention to detail is helpful to have. The successful applicant will be a self-starter with the ability to work independently without close supervision. 

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