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Return to Swarthmore

Preparing to return to Swarthmore can be bittersweet - it can be hard to say goodbye to new friends or your homestay family, you might miss the local dishes that you grew to love or perhaps you will no longer be speaking the local language in your daily life! At the same time, the prospect of reconnecting with your family or your Swat friends can be very exciting. So many mixed feelings! 

Readjustment 

For some students the return from abroad does not represent any major difficulties however, for others, it may present serious challenges. Saying goodbye to people you were used to seeing on a daily basis, leaving the lifestyle developed abroad, and missing the sights, sounds, foods, etc. of the abroad location, may cause a true sense of loss. This is sometimes referred to as a "reverse culture shock". You may feel like you look at situations with other eyes - what once looked so familiar, may now look different and this can cause a real sense of unease. Or you may feel like you went through a life changing experience, and it may be difficult to share with your friends at family just how and why that was so. 

Just like studying abroad, the return to life in the U.S. and study at Swarthmore might take you through a few ups and downs, and will likely take patience and resilience. When possible seek out ways to talk about your experiences and express your new interests, with friends old and new. At OCS we are always happy to talk to you about your experience - stop by for a chat! Should you find that your adjustment back to life and studies at Swarthmore is interfering with your studies, personal health, relationships, or other aspects of your well being you should consider consulting with advisors and health professionals at Swarthmore.

Practical matters

Be sure to resolve any financial matters before you leave, they are so much more difficult to handle once you're no longer local. This include small things, like outstanding library fines, and bigger issues such as security deposits. In the case of security deposits, make sure you understand how the deposit will be returned (i.e., the amount, currency, where it will be returned and when). Programs will not send your final transcript if you have outstanding financial obligations. If you receive any refunds from your study abroad program, please contact your OCS Advisor.

Don't  leave your study abroad location with unfinished academic work unless the program has explicitly stated that this is expected of you. Even in such cases, please notify your OCS advisor, and let them know what the deadline is for completion.  An important cause of academic failure by students who’ve studied abroad is non-compliance with academic deadlines for receipt of academic work or other program policies such as attendance.

Credits

Upon return to campus, you will have to complete the course approval process. For detailed instructions on how to do this, please see the credit section in the Handbook, and follow the instructions in All About Credits.

Welcome Back Gathering

Each semester returning study abroad participants are invited to the Welcome Back Gathering. This is great event where you get to talk with other study abroad participants, share stories, and learn about many ways to maximize the abroad experience while back on campus. Also: more good food and more cake! And if you're interested in promoting study abroad or otherwise working with OCS, let us know. We'd love to hear from you!

The Lang Center 

The Lang Center for Civic & Social Responsibility supports faculty, students, and staff interested in issues of social justice and social action with advice and guidance, space for meetings and events, transportation resources, as well as funding for entrepreneurial projects, non-profit social justice internships, and public scholarship curricular design. The Lang Center encourages faculty, staff, and students to be involved with surrounding communities both locally and globally, for mutual benefit and reciprocally enriching relationships. 

Alumni Perspective

“Studying abroad is not about stepping outside your comfort zone, it's about expanding it. Cultural literacy and adaptability are critical life skills that will open new doors, inform your world views, and even improve your self-awareness. My transformative semester abroad in Shanghai motivated me to return to the Chinese-speaking world after graduation where I forged lifelong friendships with Taiwanese people and became fluent in Mandarin only by fully immersing myself into the local culture and society.” 

Paul Chung, ‘14 (China, Global Alliance, fall 2012), OCS Study Abroad Assistant