As part of Ongoing Orientation, events are held upon the students' return to Wofford to integrate them back into campus life. Study abroad alumni are always eager to share their experiences, and reflect upon lessons learned and skills acquired while overseas. The reentry events are intended to foster an environment in which reflection and considerations of the value of study abroad are explored in a welcoming atmosphere.
After reading this section, you should feel quite prepared for your stay abroad. But what about when you return-when will you prepare yourself for that? Or will you? Once home, many students either fail or refuse to recognize problems which stem from their academic sojourn overseas. Before leaving, the big question-Where am I going?-contained an element of excitement and adventure which overshadowed any nervousness or apprehension a student may have felt when departing. Back home, the big questions usually focuses even more on the overseas experience: Where have I been? What happens now? Almost all students admit that their overseas experience changes their lives, but it is not always easy to integrate these changes in daily life back home or to keep an international outlook back on campus.
Below are some suggestions we have gathered over the years which may be helpful to you in dealing with some of these problems:
1. Plan to keep a journal while you are abroad. This is a wonderful tool for dealing with a change in your environment, when you leave the U.S. as well as when you come back. Otherwise, ask someone to save the letters you send from abroad.
2. Visit the Office of International Programs; there are materials available that will help make your reintegration into Wofford more agreeable.
3. Visit Career Services before and after your study abroad experience. Students often regret not knowing the type of contacts to make abroad. Your faculty advisor(s) may be acquainted with professors abroad who may be able to advise you on any independent research or study projects you undertake.
4. Try to keep up with your foreign language skills and with events in the country where you have studied.
5. Search out the international club on campus. All international experiences have some similar aspects. Share your experience and find out what was comparable; what was different; and how your fellow students are coping with their return.
6. Remember that changes have occurred at home. Friends will be interested in the stories you have to tell them, but remember that important events also occurred in their lives while you were away. Make it a point to ask questions about campus life and activities; what changed in their lives during the year. This is certainly not a definitive list. You may come up with ideas which are more helpful; you may find that you will not encounter difficulties when you return. As stated before, a study abroad experience is an extremely personal one. The most important thing is to feel that you have exhausted each opportunity (academic and cultural) to its fullest extent and have changed because of it.
Welcome Home Dinner
At the beginning of each semester, all students who studied overseas the prior semester are invited to a Welcome Home Dinner. For some, this is the first time they will reunite with classmates, faculty, and staff since returning to campus. Students are encouraged to bring pictures or memorabilia to help share their experiences. Alums are asked to reflect upon a landmark time or event during their time overseas from which they learned about themselves, their environment, or their own culture. Alumni have asserted that this event was the most meaningful for them and it certainly has proven to be one of the most enjoyable!
Working, Volunteering, and Teaching Abroad
The Office of International Programs offers a session for students who want to further their study abroad experience through international opportunities to work, intern, or volunteer abroad after they graduate. We also offer resources on how students can better "market" their study abroad experiences on their resume or graduate school applications as well as how to highlight newly gained skills from their time abroad.