Get Involved on Campus
Don’t let your global experience end upon returning to your home campus! One of the best ways to extend your Education Abroad experience is to continue connecting with global communities after you return from your program. Penn State has a diverse global community with many opportunities to take advantage of while you’re a student. Find out more about how to build your network and expand your cultural involvement.
Remaining involved in global experiences while at your home Penn State campus can help you continue to grow personally, academically, and professionally. As you transition back from abroad, these opportunities also help you to incorporate your life abroad into your current and future endeavors.
Below are some ways you can get involved in global experiences on campus and continue to share your experiences and knowledge with others.
Internationalize Your Campus Life
There are many ways to remain internationally engaged on campus after returning from your education abroad experience. Find opportunities on your Penn State campus and get involved globally. Of the many available opportunities, here are just a few examples:
- Become a Peer Adviser: When students return from abroad, they will receive an email from the Education Abroad office with instructions on how to apply for a peer adviser position. Typically, peer advisers are selected at the beginning of each academic year. Competitive and thoughtful applications from a wide range of experiences will be invited to interview for the position.
- Attend the Global Engagement and Leadership Experience program (GELE) program:
- Become a Global Ambassador: Find out more about becoming a Global Ambassador by contacting the Global Engagement office at SEIL@psu.edu
- Join an international club or intercultural group.
- Volunteer with global groups and organizations:
- If your campus or academic department hosts an Education Abroad or Global Engagement Fair, ask how you can get involved and volunteer.
- Help an education abroad adviser with an information session for your program
- Volunteer with Global Connections a local non-profit that promotes intercultural understanding.
- Become an orientation leader at the New Student Orientation for International Students. Reach out to SEIL@psu.edu to learn who to connect with at your campus to learn more!
- Were you a participant in an exchange program? Connect with students from your host institution who are studying abroad at Penn State by reaching out EAExchanges@psu.edu.
- Stay up to date on international news and events.
Internationalize Your Education
Now that you have been abroad, find a way to act and learn globally during your remaining time at Penn State.
- Add a Global and International Studies Minor or a minor related to your host country's history or language
- Ask your academic adviser about global or internationally focused courses within your major or minor
- Discuss your global experience with a professor in your field
- Take courses that expose you to diverse views and concepts. Take advantage of learning more through group projects and discussions with new people from different backgrounds.
- Become a host to an exchange student
- Mentor an international student
- Volunteer to teach English as a Second Language
- Conduct research projects or write papers that incorporate learning from your study abroad experience
Use and Develop Language Skills
Keep practicing your new language skills or begin learning a new language.
- Become a Conversation Partner with Community Engagement Programs.
- Join a language club.
- Continue formal language study at Penn State.
- Volunteer as an interpreter at a local hospital or courthouse.
- Watch movies or read books in the language of the host culture.
- Change your electronic devices to your target language.
- Write a reflective journal or blog about your most significant experiences abroad.
- Explore international art, music, and literature at museums or the library.
- Find and attend community cultural events.
Strategies for Successful Reentry
Share Experiences with Family and Friends
Your family and friends will want to hear about your education abroad experience. Share your experience with them such as your memories, your photos, and what you learned about your host culture and yourself while abroad.
Share Your Experience with Potential Education Abroad Students
If you enjoyed your study abroad experience and want to share it with students interested in your program, we're looking for your help! The best resources about program specifics come from our returned education abroad students. When requested, we want to provide future and accepted students with contact information of program alumni.
Maintain Contact with Host Country and Culture
While you're abroad you probably made many connections to locals in the host country, as well as friends on your program either abroad or back in the United States. Find ways to keep in touch even after you return.
- Use email, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media to keep in frequent contact with the friends you made while abroad.
- Take a course at Penn State related to the history or culture of your host country.
- Invite international friends to visit you in the U.S.
- Visit local ethnic grocery stores and restaurants.
- Find and attend local cultural events, fairs, and organization meetings.
Reverse Cultural Adjustment
Now that you're back, you may have noticed that your feelings of excitement to be home are also mixed with feeling disoriented or disconnected from your friends and family. Don't worry - that's normal! Cultural adjustment doesn’t just happen when you go abroad. It also can happen when you return. This feeling of needing to adjust to your home after being abroad is known as reverse cultural adjustment. Some may know it as “reverse culture shock,” but that may be just one of the ways people experience reacclimating to life back home. It can take time to get used to the changes that your home has experienced and how that works with the growth you have achieved as well. Give yourself time and allow for some bumps while you reconnect with home and find new ways to remain engaged with your community abroad.
While it is normal to feel overwhelmed while adjusting back to your life at Penn State after spending time in a different country, know that you can schedule an appointment with a Penn State Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) counselor if you feel depressed or you need additional help readjusting.