Publication Date

1999

Abstract

Much has been written about the phenomenon of culture shock, the experience that one has when entering another culture, but relatively little research has been devoted to understanding study abroad students' return to their homes. Viewing the study abroad experience as cyclical-beginning before the study abroad, followed by the time abroad, and finishing with the return home, I am interested in investigating the final cycle, that is, the experience of returning home. The primary subject of this research paper is to examine the experience of reentry after a study abroad program for US university students. I became interested in learning about the phenomenon of culture shock when I was an undergraduate student at Central Connecticut State University. During my junior year, I studied intercultural communications in Sweden. During my study abroad experience, I learned first-hand about the difficulties involved in crossing cultures. When I returned to the United States, I found myself experiencing some difficulties in readjusting to my "familiar" home. I then returned to my part-time job at the international office at the university and became involved in various workshops and orientations geared towards better understanding cultural differences and facilitating the process of adaptation for returned American students. During the remainder of my time at Central Connecticut State University, I became actively involved with the community of international students and realized my career path leading me to become the study abroad advisor at the University of Rhode Island. As the study abroad and national student exchange advisor at the University of Rhode Island, I coordinate the Peer Mentor Program. This program provides returned American students with the opportunity to interact with the newly arrived international students, to promote study abroad opportunities at the university, and to assist with the various cultural and social programming coordinated and supervised by the Office of International Education. Based on my experiences with and observations of the program, along with an extensive literature review, I have chosen to examine the impact of the University of Rhode Island's Peer Mentor Program on the American mentors.

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