International Education

Challenges and Opportunities

Styles of Reentry

As mentioned above different students deal with coming back home in a variety of ways. A leading scholar in intercultural communication and re-entry, Margaret D. Pusch, identifies a few styles that tend to characterize how students might read just to their home.¹

Potential Styles of Reentry:

Style Name Potential Characteristics
Free Spirit A "free spirit" really enjoyed constantly being challenged by difference and may return waiting to continue his experiences abroad. He generally misses being unique or different.
Detached Someone "detached" likely established a satisfying life and engaged in creative work in the host culture. Although sometimes reluctant to go back to the old patterns of the home culture, this style wants to create a comfortable environment for self and possibly for family and close friends, therefore, they are usually a tolerant participant of the home culture.
Reassimilator Delighted to be back home, the "reassimilator" usually finds ease in re-entry and may"shoebox" their experience abroad – not combining their experience abroad into life at home.
Integrator An "integrator" tends to have positive experience abroad and wants to find the best fit within the home culture. Pusch describes an integrator as taking on one or more of the following roles:
  • Leaders/mediators: "Able to identify opportunities to provide leadership or be mediators in diverse cultural settings."
  • Advocates: "want to help others obtain advantage" of a similar type of experience.
  • Contended Believers: "focus is to build a life...that is less stressed, less outwardly oriented, less concerned with...achieving success dictated by the homeculture."
  • Expatriates: "committed to returning abroad...not a rejection of the homeculture, just a way of living that is personally and professionally satisfying."

Do you see yourself in one of these styles? A combination of two or more?

Recommendations for returning from study abroad activities for each reentry style are found in the "Returning from study abroad activities for the IDS 102X course".


Potential Issues

Returning "home" can be potentially difficult for the following reasons²:

  • Unanticipated change ("home" is thought of as a known entity)
  • Unadjusted expectations or false expectations of returning home
  • Heightened critical sense
  • Comparative framework (new perspectives)
  • Unprocessed experience
  • Little opportunity for application or sharing of non-technical knowledge Anticipation of future travel (uncertainty) Getting up-to-speed may be frustrating (finding out what was missed)
  • Need to renegotiate relationships with family and peers

Have you experienced any of these challenges?


¹From the SIETAR-Europa Proceedings, SIETAR-Europa Conference in Bath, England, April 1998.

²"Training for International Transitions" course packet, Summer Institute for Intercultural Communication (2003).  Atkins, S., Bennett, R., Citron, J.,Mendelson, V., Home Again