It is important that parents understand that an overseas experience does not end when students have their passports stamped and board the plane for home. There is a period of remembering, analyzing, and interpreting the overseas experience. Students are working hard to reconcile two very different cultures. This task can take some time, but completing it is important and of great personal and social benefit to students.
It can be a challenging time, in part because it is unexpected. Students go home to what they believe are familiar, unchanged family and friends. You most likely haven’t changed a great deal, but from your son or daughter’s point of view, you may seem very different. This is because students bring home new perspectives from their experiences abroad, and have new frames of reference to form opinions, ideas, and relationships. It is not uncommon for students to feel temporarily homesick for their overseas friends and lifestyles. They may also find that life at home is more demanding than they expected, while at the same time they are no longer as unique and special as they were when abroad. Although each day at home may bring new challenges, they most likely are not as exciting or exotic as the challenges overseas.
Eventually a balance between the new and the old, the foreign and the familiar, will be reached. Your son or daughter will fully integrate life overseas with life at home, appreciating both cultures for their own inherent worth. And in so doing, your student will be well on his or her way to the development of intercultural competence, one of the greatest rewards of studying abroad.