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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.

Our Returned Student Handbook will help you reflect through your experience and provide you with suggestions on how to utilize and expand on your international experience academically and professionally.

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:

  • Review the Resources for Programs Abroad Office Alumni. These include a resource guide and other tips found on this website.
  • Join the Study Abroad Returnees Organization (SAR). The SAR is an official UT student organization founded by study abroad alumni. You are welcome to join now and follow the organization web page for more details at the start of the fall semester. Join us via VOLink.
  • Apply to be a Peer Advisor for the Programs Abroad Office.
  • 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.
  • Attend a Study Abroad ReEntry Orientation. 
  • Attend a Study Abroad Alumni Conference.