Maintaining Your International Experience After Your Program

By Kelsey Robinson

 

 

For many people, coming home can be a more difficult transition than adjusting to a completely new culture. You may find yourself somewhat dissatisfied with your day-to-day life, making constant comparisons between your home country and your host country, and longing to return abroad. Fortunately, your international experience does not have to end when you return home. There are many simple actions you can take to help you stay connected to your time abroad, ease your transition, and carry out your life as a globally-minded citizen. 

 

  1. Get involved with the IPSL alumni network- We have a substantial community of former students have gone through the same transition as you. We invite you to become active in our Alumni Association to stay connected with fellow alumni, the program, and your service experience. In addition to keeping you connected to your time abroad, the Alumni Association also provides valuable networking opportunities that may advance your career options. If you found that your time with IPSL contributed to your personal or professional development, you may find it rewarding to share your experiences with future students. Please reach out to us by phone or email if you would like more information on how you can stay in touch.

  2. Continue studying your host language- One of the wonderful things about studying a foreign language is that there is always room to improve. You can check to see if there are language classes available where you live or if there is a tandem language exchangeprogram. If you cannot find anyone to help you practice your target language nearby, consider practicing online with programs like italki. You can easily find teachers and conversations partners from the same regions in which you studied. 

  3. Join an international Meetup group- You may live in an area with a large international community that would be happy to engage with you. By searching the local Meetupgroups, you can typically find communities of like-minded people who are interested in other cultures, travel, and foreign languages. These events are often free to attend and you are under no obligation to return if you find that it is not a good fit.

  4. Begin planning a new experience abroad- For many of us, one of the first things we do after returning from our time abroad is to plan the next experience. Once you start exploring the world and engaging with new cultures, you can find it difficult to stop. There is considerable evidence to suggest that planning these experiences can have a positive psychological impact. In a 2010 Dutch studyon the psychology of vacations, researchers found that the mere act of planning to travel can contribute significantly to one’s happiness. If you decide to study abroad with IPSL in the future, whether engaging in advocacy research or through a language and culture program, you are eligible to receive an automatic $500 scholarship. 

  5. Volunteer with international populations- If you live in a city or town with a particularly large international community, there may be many opportunities to get involved. Search for local organizations that work with refugee communities, immigrant populations, or international students and see if there might be opportunities to serve. Local organizations will value your ability to serve in an ethical and culturally appropriate manner.

  6. Stay in touch with your community abroad- The relationships you made abroad can continue well past the end of your program. Before you leave, be sure to exchange contact information with your friends and host family. You may someday find yourself in a position to meet up abroad or they may want to visit you where you live. 

 

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