Homeward Bound: Students Looking Toward Reentry

Within a few shorts weeks, many schools across the US will break for the summer. For ISE, that means that a good number of our students will be returning home, and that can be a stressful time for everyone. There will be preparations for departure, final exams to take, goodbyes, and plenty of social engagements that fill the final weeks before everyone heads their separate ways. In the midst of it all, students have to consider how they feel about returning home. Though exciting, return home can be as disorienting as it was to leave home in the first place.


One may hear a student, “It has been an amazing year, and we are ready to return home after a year in the United States.” This is the kind of experience ISE wants every student to have. The student has had a productive year, full of learning, cultural immersion, and academic achievements. He or she has made friends, established ties to the community, and will have many stories to tell. But has he or she considered what it will be like to reenter the community from which they departed a year ago?

airport family

Many students report that they have to reconnect with their friends, and that it can be somewhat difficult. Those who have stayed behind have lived year of their own. How will they react when their friend comes back, having lived a separate life in another country for such a long time? For students, it is important to remember that although people will be curious to hear about the adventure of studying abroad, not everyone is offered the same opportunity, and some acquaintances may react in unexpected ways.

Farewell 4

The most important thing a student should do, aside from packing and making sure all documents are in order before departure, is to consider his or her own feelings. What does leaving the US, your home for the last year, mean to you? How do you feel about returning to your former community and social circles? What will you want to remember most about your experience? What kind of mementos will you bring with you? Are you excited or anxious to reenter your old school, or are you jumping right into university studies when you arrive? Do you want to bring your family members something representative of the state or the country that you lived in?

Kasimir Leaving

A smart approach to sorting out  the anxiety about travelling home is to sit down and write it out. Make some time to jot down some ideas, even if it is just a “to-do” list, it will help to organize your thoughts. Maybe you might want to make a list of people that you want to talk to before you leave, and maybe there are people out there who deserve a thank you. One of the regrets some students experience is that time went by very fast at the end of the program and they missed their chance to speak to everyone that an impact on their year abroad.


Whatever your choice is, just remember that time goes by quickly, particularly during the end of the program. Making a few preparations before boarding your flight can make the transition home a little easier. Good luck and happy trails to our students. It has been a great year, and it is not over yet!

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