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Returnees and Alumni

Welcome back to Knoxville! We hope you had an exciting and enriching experience abroad.

Now that you’re back on campus, the Programs Abroad Office staff is here to help you readjust to life at UT, keep your international experiences alive, and/or assist you in planning another experience abroad.

As you readjust to life in the United States, you may find it challenging to return to your “normal” routine. Even though you are coming back to a familiar environment, you have a new perspective on what it means to be an American and may view US policies and customs in a different way.

Much like when you first arrived in your host country, you may experience a sense of culture shock when you return home. You have changed, faced challenges, experienced life in another culture, and learned the positives and negatives of your own culture. In addition, time did not stop while you were away, so your family and friends may have changed as well.

Adjustment upon re-entry varies for each person. Common symptoms include boredom, fatigue, missing your host country, feelings of isolation, or a change in eating and sleeping habits. Many students also find that family and friends are interested in hearing their stories immediately upon return, but eventually tire of the subject. If this happens to you, remember that it is not a reflection of their feelings about you. They were not direct participants of the experience and may not fully understand the impact it had on you.

Stay Connected

The Programs Abroad Office staff is here to help you adjust to being back on campus. Try some of the following to help with reverse culture shock and get involved:

  1. Review the Resources for Programs Abroad Office Alumni. These include a resource guide and other tips found on this website.
  1. Join the Study Abroad Alumni Organization (SAAO). The SAAO is an official UT student organization founded by study abroad alumni. Learn more about SAAO and access the application form. You are welcome to join now and follow the organization web page for more details at the start of the fall semester.
  1. Apply for a Peer Advisor Position in the Programs Abroad Office.
  1. Join the VolsCorps. The Programs Abroad Office has an informal group of study abroad alumni volunteers who assist with outreach events and serve as contacts for students interested in their country or program. To join the group, complete the online volunteer registration.
  1. Participate in International House Activities, such as the International Friendship Program. UT’s International House offers a variety of international opportunities. It also hosts a Friendship Program, which pairs students—one from an international country and one from America—for cultural events and casual get-togethers during the semester. Learn more about the International Friendship Program.
  1. Attend a Study Abroad Alumni Welcome Back Reception. This is a great time to celebrate and reflect on your experience abroad with other students who have just returned from abroad. These events are held at the start of each semester. Light refreshments are served. Invitations are sent to students via email.
  1. Attend a Study Abroad Alumni Conference.
  • Lessons from Abroad Georgia, a conference for study abroad alumni, takes place each fall semester. Conference information can be found on the Lessons from Abroad Facebook Page and Lessons from Abroad website.
  • Global Experiences Conference, a globally focused conference event, takes place on the UT campus each spring semester. Opportunities include presenting your international experience, volunteering, and attending the conference to learn about post-graduate opportunities abroad. Conference details are announced each fall.

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