Cultural Experience | Resources

Returning from an International Experience: A To Do List

5 Key things to do once you get back from traveling abroad.

1. Be modest in your enthusiasm.

Ah, the day has finally arrived! The day you and all your friends at home marked on your calendars. Your return is finally here and the first thing you want to do (after showering and taking a nap, of course) is catch up with everyone.  Once your plane lands and you take your phone off airplane mode, you’ll receive texts saying “can’t wait to see you and hear all about it!” Without even being reunited yet, their anticipation will only increase your excitement of getting to tell all about your time abroad. So much life was lived on your side, but don’t forget that the same can be said for your friends at home.

Friends are genuine and friendship is reciprocal. So, as much as you think they want to hear about that weekend in Ibiza or how many times you visited the Louvre, be modest in your enthusiasm. Remember that your friends from home weren’t there, so they won’t be able to share the same enjoyment in the stories as you. Sharing anecdotes over the span of multiple hang outs as opposed to gushing for hours in one sitting is always more interesting for both parties. They’ll appreciate your consideration and you won’t be that annoying friend who doesn’t stop bragging about your dream turned reality.

2. Stay connected with the new friends you met.

Once you return home you’ll most likely pick up where you left off and get back to being busy. However, don’t use that as an excuse for time to pass without reconnecting with the friends you made while abroad. The longer you wait, the harder and less likely it is you’ll ever send that friendly text or Facebook message. This is a shame considering how close travelers get to so many people in such a short time. Don’t let the passing of time negatively affect the relationships you made. You never know if you’ll meet up in your favorite foreign café or bar again someday.

Plaza de Espana, Sevilla image

Photo by Sarah Tibble

3. Update your resume.

It’s time to get back in the real world. You now have documentable experience that can enhance your resume. List the school you attended, any programs you were involved in, and/or volunteer work you set aside time for. International experience, whether professional or academic, stands out on resumes. Finding a way to cater your experience abroad to your job search sets you apart in a marketable way.

Aside from editing and enhancing your resume, there are also a number of soft skills that have improved due to your international experience.  Employers seek out candidates who are ambitious, self-starters, and both team players and leaders. These are but a few of the attributes you will improve on during your time abroad. You’ll experience a time that calls for being goal-oriented (from planning weekend trips to passing exams), patient and decisive in cooperation with groups of diverse people, and responsible enough to make your trip one a most life-giving experiences. These personal strengths can easily be exemplified in interviews and subsequently transfer to the work place.

4. Continue the cultural habits you acquired while abroad.

While adjusting back to life at home is necessary, that doesn’t mean you have to give up the habits or behaviors you picked up on while you were immersed in another culture. Many other countries have noticeably different lifestyles compared to the states. You might also find that such lifestyles are more beneficial for you, society, and the environment. Some small, daily, lifestyle habits adopted from time spent in Europe include:

• Take shorter showers by using water to only rinse off: be environmentally conscious, a 10 minute shower uses an estimated 20-50 gallons of water according to the US Geological Survey

• Cut down on AC and electricity use: most people in Spain don’t even have AC, they just bear with the heat and humidity by way of fans and windows for breezes

• Spend hours at the dinner table: the old art of enjoying good company at the table over a 4 hour-long meal should make a comeback in American culture for the sake of solid communities and strong relationships

• Depend on public transportation / ride a bike / walk instead of relying on your car for every single thing: big cities and college towns are fairly conducive to this lifestyle

River Inn, Innsbruck image

5. Memorialize your trip.

Your international experience was one for the books, so why not sit down and create something to commemorate it? Before your head comes back down from being in the clouds, set aside some time to go through photos, ticket stubs, and trinkets that represent the tiny details of your days abroad. Facebook albums are quick and easy ways to click through and reminisce over your time abroad, but let’s get a little more creative! Compile photos into a scrapbook, organize travel journals into their own book shelf, put up a map with all the countries you visited, and fill a jar with museum tickets and boarding passes. These things are all visual representations that you can look through to remind you of your travels. Finding concrete and creative mediums to memorialize your trip allows you to easily look back at it and reminisce.

Traveling- The Return Pin image

Kristin Naujok

Texas A&M University | 7 stories

Kristin is a senior at Texas A&M studying International Studies and Geography. She has a heart for travel, food, and Jesus. This past summer she studied abroad in Seville and Barcelona, Spain.

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