by Tara Miller, who writes about the best online schools
You may think that encouraging your students to study abroad for a semester, summer or entire year is your biggest challenge. Helping them work out complicated schedules, find a program, figure out financial aid, and build confidence to live in a foreign country are challenges that many students face before they go abroad, but the transition back to traditional American college life can also be difficult. For some students, the time they spend in a study abroad program is even more life-changing than their first year in college. They may have trouble socializing with their previous friends, living and studying in a stricter environment, and missing all of the people, experiences and culture they fell in love with abroad. As a faculty member, study abroad advisor or student mentor, there are things you can do to help the transition go a little more smoothly.
• Open up your office hours. Some students may assume that your office hours are for discussions about grades and lectures only. Let them know that they can come by to talk about anything they’re going through, including study abroad.
• Encourage students to share their experiences. Ask them to bring pictures from their trip and to talk about their abroad experiences.
• Help them find ways to stay involved. Suggest to your students that they join a foreign language or culture club to remind them of their time abroad. If your campus doesn’t offer one, find out if there is a similar type of club or association in your city.
• Host a pot-luck for former study abroad students. Invite students who have recently studied abroad over for dinner, and ask them to bring a dish that reminds them of their stay.
• Ask them to mentor other students preparing to study abroad. Your campus study abroad office may already have a mentor program in place, but if not, try to pair up your former study abroad student with someone who is preparing to go.
• Encourage your students to explore post-college opportunities abroad. If your student is depressed and afraid that he will never go abroad again, help him research post-college opportunities like teaching abroad or graduate school abroad.
• Remind students of the things they loved about campus life. When a student seems angry or frustrated at being back at college, help her remember all of the things she loved to do and the friends she hung out with before going away.
This post was contributed by Tara Miller, who writes about the best online schools. She welcomes your feedback at TaraMillerr00 at gmail.com