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International Education

O'Dowd Hall, Room 328
586 Pioneer Drive
Rochester, MI 48309-4482
(location map)
(248) 370-2889
[email protected]

Office hours
Mon - Fri: 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Alex Zimmerman, Director
(248) 370-2843
[email protected]

International Education

O'Dowd Hall, Room 328
586 Pioneer Drive
Rochester, MI 48309-4482
(location map)
(248) 370-2889
[email protected]

Office hours
Mon - Fri: 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Alex Zimmerman, Director
(248) 370-2843
[email protected]

A woman wheeling luggage down a hallway in front of a window.

Returning from Abroad

Your study abroad experience doesn't end when you step off the plane. Returning home is a chance to build on your experience away and cultivate the new beginnings made while abroad, including new friends, new interests, new foods and the love of travel. Oakland University offers international theatre, music, festivals, events, to discover and international students to engage with on campus.

Support Services
OU offers services and support to ease the transition of returning from abroad. Let us help you get reacquainted with American culture and eager to jump back into your studies at OU. 

Re-entry Interactive online workshop

Process your experience abroad and work through the psychological, social, and cultural challenges of your return with a reentry workshop. Participants will get an overview of the re-entry process and may discuss their experience online at their convenience. Workshop link is provided upon return from study abroad.

Study abroad volunteer

Extend your study abroad experience and influence others by becoming a study abroad volunteer. You’ll help promote study abroad to other students at OU events (including welcome receptions, Go for the Gold, open houses) by answering questions and handing out literature.

Study abroad speakers bureau

Share your international stories as a study-abroad speaker in classrooms, conferences, and events. Speaking schedules are determined on a semester-to-semester basis.

Study abroad student adviser

Help other students get started on their study abroad experience by becoming a student adviser. View our see an adviser page for more information. Advisers provide one-hour walk-in advising sessions one day a week each week. Training is provided and held at the beginning of each semester. Although there is no pay for advising, you will derive great satisfaction from helping others and gain experience to include on your resume.

Study abroad office internship

Each intern tackles a meaningful study abroad/away project in OU’s International Education office. Internships help develop valuable work skills and a better understanding of how a study abroad office operates. The weekly time commitment per semester is determined with the study abroad director.

Vlogging Contest

Video Entry
Share your study abroad/study away experience and win! Create and submit a vlog of your study abroad Winter, Summer, or Fall 2019 experience combining photographs, video, animation, sound, music, and text! The story should be a reflection of your experience but may feature any aspect of your study abroad or study away. View an example of a vlog produced by OU 2017 vlogging contest winner.

Production Tools
A number of software options are suitable for producing a digital story. Use your favorite software or consider using Microsoft Photo Story 3 for Video Editor Master for smart phone/mobile devices - free downloads available through Microsoft. Numerous editing apps are available through the App Store and Play Store. Animoto editing program can be used on any computer (MAC or PC) and is also free. For image editing, try using the free website at http://pixlr.com/editor/.

First Place (one): winner will receive lunch for two at The Red Ox with the Study abroad office team; CIEE backpack; and study abroad graduation sash.

Second Place (one): winner will a study abroad/study away graduation sash representing your country/state of study; and CIEE Kleen Kanteen water bottle, and CIEE travel spork.

Third Place (one): CIEE study summer glasses and CIEE travel spork.

Vlog videos will also be shared on the International Education website and through other digital channels and social media.

Contest Dates
The contest Runs through December 31, 2022 at 11:59 p.m. Winners will be announced Jan. 15, 2023. Prizes will be awarded Feb. 1, 2023.

Play by the Rules

  1. Student applicants must be enrolled at OU at the time the application is submitted and have completed a study abroad/study away program while enrolled as an Oakland University student participating in a study abroad/study away program offered through OU.
  2. The Vlog must be original and include a self photo/image somewhere in the piece.
  3. The Vlog cannot exceed three minutes in length.
  4. The Vlog must be submitted with an application online.

Submit Your Entry
To enter the contest, complete the Vlog Contest application. Upload your digital vlog entry into the International Education Dropbox. Submit the video in Dropbox using the username and password provided on the application.

Create a folder with your name and program on it in the Dropbox, and then drag and drop the application and digital story into the file. Entrants will receive confirmation of entry receipt by email.

Winning entries will be judged on content, creativity, adhering to the rules, and use of the medium.

For questions about the contest, email Cynthia at [email protected].

Special thanks to CIEE Study Abroad for generously supporting the OU Vlogging Contest.

Graduation Sash

Earn a graduation sash representing your country of study by volunteering at three study abroad events. Email mail to: [email protected] for details.

Re-entry Challenges

After all the newness and stimulation of your time abroad, a return to family, friends, and old routines (however nice and comforting) can seem very dull. It is natural to miss the excitement and challenges that characterize study in a foreign country, but it is up to you to find ways to overcome such negative reactions. Try new things, travel domestically, and continue cultural and linguistic studies.

No one wants to hear

One thing you can count on upon your return: no one will be as interested in hearing about your adventures and triumphs as you will be in sharing those experiences. This is not a rejection of you or your achievements, but simply the fact that once they have heard the highlights, any further interest on your audience's part is probably unlikely. Be realistic in your expectations of how fascinating your journey is going to be for everyone else. Be brief.

You can't explain

Even when given a chance to explain all the sights you saw and feelings you had while studying abroad, it is likely to be at least a bit frustrating trying to relay them coherently. It is very difficult to convey this kind of experience to people who do not have similar frames of reference or travel backgrounds, no matter how sympathetic they are as listeners. You can tell people about your trip, but you may fail to make them understand exactly how or why you felt a particular way. It's okay!

Reverse "homesickness

Just as you probably missed home for a time after arriving overseas, it is just as natural to experience some reverse homesickness for the people, places, and things that you grew accustomed to as a student abroad. To an extent, writing letters, telephoning, emailing, and generally keeping in contact can reduce them, but feelings of loss are an integral part of international sojourns and must be anticipated and accepted as a natural result of study abroad.

Relationships have changed

It is inevitable that when you return you will notice that some relationships with friends and family will have changed. Just as you have altered some of your ideas and attitudes while abroad, the people at home are likely to have experienced some changes that are very important to them. These changes may be positive or negative, but expecting that no change will have occurred is unrealistic. The best preparation is flexibility, openness, minimal preconceptions, and tempered optimism.

People see the "wrong" changes

Sometimes people may concentrate on small alterations in your behavior or ideas and seem threatened or upset by them. These incidents may be motivated by jealousy, fear, or feelings of superiority or inferiority. To avoid or minimize discomfort, it is necessary to monitor yourself and be aware of the reactions of those around you, especially in the first few weeks following your return. This phase normally passes quickly if you do nothing to confirm their stereotypes.

People misunderstand

A few people will misinterpret your words or actions in such a way that communication becomes difficult. For example, what you may have come to think of as witty humor (particularly sarcasm, banter, etc.) and a way to show affection or establish a conversation may be considered aggression or "showing off." Continually using references to foreign places or sprinkling foreign language expressions or words into an English conversation is often considered boasting. Be aware of how you may look to others and how your behavior is likely to be interpreted.

Feeling of alienation/seeing with "critical eyes"

Sometimes the reality of being back "home" is not as natural or enjoyable as the place you had constructed as your mental image. When actual daily life is less enjoyable or more demanding than you remembered, it is natural to feel some alienation. Many returnees develop “critical eyes,” a tendency to see faults in the society you never noticed before (e.g., Americans are so wasteful, materialistic, fat, in a hurry, etc.). Being critical is closely related to discomfort during readjustment and mild "culture shock. "Mental comparisons are fine, but keep them to yourself until you regain both your cultural balance and a balanced perspective.

Inability to apply new knowledge and skills

Many returnees are frustrated by the lack of opportunity to apply newly gained social, linguistic, and practical coping skills that appear to be unnecessary or irrelevant at home. To avoid ongoing annoyance: adjust to reality as necessary, change what is possible, be creative, be patient, and above all, use all the cross?cultural adjustment skills you acquired abroad to assist your own reentry.

Loss/compartmentalization of experience ("shoeboxing")

Being home, combined with the pressures of job, school, family, and friends, often conspires to make returnees worried that they might somehow "lose" the experience. Many fear that it will become compartmentalized like souvenirs or photo albums kept in a box and only occasionally taken out and looked at. You do not have to let that happen: maintain your contacts abroad; seek out and talk to people who have had experiences similar to yours; practice your cross?cultural skills; continue language learning. To the extent possible, integrate your overseas experience into your ongoing life and activities.

Adapted from a list originally created by Dr. Bruce La Brack, School of International Studies, University of the Pacific, for the Latin American Scholarship Program, American Universities of Harvard University, Central American Program for Undergraduate Scholars.