It is important to provide guidance to students before, during, and especially after the study abroad experience. The Office of International Programs (OIP) accounts for the critical needs of recently returned study abroad participants and engages returnees in programming that facilitates the long-term educational, professional, and personal benefits of the experience, rather than merely focusing on time spent abroad.
Returned student services provide study abroad participants the opportunity to intentionally reflect upon and process their education abroad experience. These activities encourage students to more fully consider how their values, attitudes, and behaviors may have shifted while abroad and to better understand the deep impact of coming home. Often coming home and “fitting back into the American culture” is more difficult for students than adjusting to the host country culture. Recognition and application of new knowledge, skills and attitude is vital so that students test their new competencies in their home environments.
OIP is poised to aid the returnee’s transition back to Whittier, engage the returnee in critical reflection, and help the returnee develop a vocabulary to describe the experience beyond “It was great!”.