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SPECIAL REPORT - THE MOURNING AFTER: Students don’t realise that returning from study abroad is the real challenge
For international students, a degree of culture shock on arriving in Copenhagen is an expected part of studying abroad.
However they are often less prepared for the reverse culture shock that awaits them on their return home, says Anne Bruun from the University of Copenhagen International Office.
The expectations and the reality of home life do not always match up, she says:
»They expect things back home to be the same as when they left, and may not realise that they themselves have changed and that people at home might have changed too,« she says.
Students may feel isolated with their new experiences and changed identity, as friends and family lose interest in their ‘when I was in Copenhagen’ stories.
»They have had all these new experiences, and met all these new people, and all of a sudden they find themselves back in a boring familiar routine,« says Anne.
»I remember when I myself came back from exchange in Australia I was hit hard. I was not prepared for coming home a changed person. I had had all of these ‘wow’ experiences, but after a few days people are not as interested as they are when you first get home, so you feel a bit lonely.«
The International Office has information about reverse culture shock on their website, and brings the subject up at an orientation meeting in the beginning of the international students’ stay.
»We realise that for some people, going home may be six or 12 months away, but we don’t have a debriefing as such when people leave, so that is the only opportunity we have. I hope that just the fact that people have heard about reverse culture shock will mean that they will remember it, and are in some way prepared,« she explains.
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