Returned Student Resources

Share Your Experience

We want to hear your stories, but more importantly, other students want to learn what it was like to study on your program from YOU!

Explore these tabs to see how you can share your program experience with us and future students.

What better way to relive your program experience than by sorting through your photos? While you’re doing that, consider sending a few our way and you might be featured on our website, social media, or other promotional materials!

Remember, a picture might be worth 1000 words, but the best photos are the ones in which you share why the moment was important to you.

Social Media

  • Tag us @iapstudyabroad, use the hashtag #BadgersAbroad, or send us a DM on Instagram and Facebook. We love to feature our #BadgersAbroad on our social channels!

Submit your photos online

Did you know that nearly all of our photos are from student and staff submissions? Help us inspire future Badgers to go abroad by sharing photos and captions of your program experiences.

How to submit photos:

  • Online Google Form >>
  • Share a Google photo album with iapmarketing@studyabroad.wisc.edu
  • Email iapmarketing@studyabroad.wisc.edu and include the following information:
    • Your name and social handle (optional)
    • Location where photo was taken (city and country)
    • Brief caption

Note: By submitting your photos, you are giving IAP permission to use your photo(s) and related information/comments submitted in various marketing activities, publications and/or the web for the purpose of promoting study abroad at UW-Madison.

Study Abroad Photo Contest

Enter our annual Study Abroad Photo Contest! Our past photo contest categories have featured experiences that range from living like a local to showing off your Badger pride to landscapes that took your breath away.

Calling all writers! Consider submitting your program experience for publication in any of the following ways:

Returned Student Profile

Fill out our online returned student profile form and you could be featured within the Student Voices section of the program on which you studied. Visit the “Share my Experience” tab on your MyStudyAbroad account to complete your profile.

Share your Blog

Did you blog about your experience while you were abroad? If so, send us a link to your blog for a chance to be featured on our website or social media channels!

Campus Publications

Remember to let us know if your article or interview is published! We love to highlight the stories and successes of our returning students.

Volunteer at a Study Abroad Event

We’re always looking for returned students who would like to share their unique experiences at our study abroad events, including:

  • Study Abroad Fair
  • Study Abroad 101 Open Houses
  • Returned Student Panels
  • Coffee and Conversation Hours
  • and more!

Interested? Contact iapmarketing@studyabroad.wisc.edu if you’d like to volunteer at any of our upcoming events.

Would you like to be paid to talk about studying abroad?

UW Study Abroad employs both undergraduate and graduate student workers. Check out the Student Job Center for open positions.

Process Your Re-Entry

Getting used to a new culture can be tough, even when it’s your own!

It’s important to realize almost everyone experiences a readjustment period (also called re-entry or reverse culture shock). You have just completed an impactful experience. Sometimes, coming home can be just as or even more challenging than going abroad.

Cultural Readjustment & Reverse Culture Shock

Chart: Description of Cultural Adjustment phases

Returning to your home culture can feel a lot like when you arrived to your host country. You may find that you have changed or that home might no longer feel familiar or natural.

Emotions you might experience when returning:

  • Excitement of being home (like the “honeymoon stage” of initial culture shock)
  • Boredom with daily life
  • Difficulty expressing your feelings about your experiences
  • Changed understanding of relationships
  • Trouble in understanding your culture (norms, values, negative views, etc.)
  • Needing to learn new cultural aspects (slang, cultural references, etc.)

YOUR EXPERIENCE IS YOUR OWN.

While there are common emotions you may have after returning, everyone reacts differently to coming home. Recognize that these feelings are common and acknowledge them as part of your overall cross-cultural experience.

Links to explore:

MANAGING RE-ENTRY

Take it from other study abroad returnees: readjustment takes time. If you’re stuck in a rut, think about the three Ps – Be Patient, Present, and Proactive.

BE PATIENT

Readjustment can take days, weeks or even longer. Patience is a study abroad virtue.

  • Not everyone will understand all your experiences. Be patient with yourself and others.
  • You may have some “cultural catching up” to do, like learning new slang or catching up on current events and pop culture.

BE PRESENT

Starting your home routine may seem boring compared to life overseas, but recognize that everyday moments can be adventures, just as they were abroad!

  • Share your experiences, but don’t let them consume you. You have an entire life to live and if you want, you can continue it abroad.
  • Have the adventures you’ve had abroad at home! Explore the U.S. and look at American and Wisconsin culture with your new perspective.
  • Stay in the here and now. Feeling negative about your home culture can be expected. Making comparisons between cultures and nations is natural; however, be careful of being too critical in comparisons or generalizations.

BE PROACTIVE

Take chances and make a plan. Figure out what you need to do for yourself and do it. Check out ways to get involved in the section Get Involved at Home section below.

  • Join a club, start a language table, get to know visiting international students.
  • Talk to your study abroad or academic advisor after returning to UW-Madison.
  • If you are struggling, talk with a counseling specialist.

Ideas for Reflection and Action

  • Life After Study Abroad website: This website has a multitude of resources that help you answer the question, “now what?”
  • Advice from the Peace Corps: The Peace Corps has been sending people abroad for two-year stints for decades. Take advantage of their experience and knowledge in sending thousands of volunteers abroad each year.
  • Keep up to date with world events: Subscribe to the DailyChatter from The Forum on Education Abroad.

Personal Stories of Reverse Culture Shock – and How to Manage

IF YOU’RE HAVING A HARD TIME ADJUSTING, SEEK HELP.

The ups and downs of re-entry are to be expected and usually pass in time. At any time, if you think you might need help dealing with re-entry effects (i.e. more intense emotions for a longer period of time), talk to someone. University Health Services (UHS) offers services for students including Processing Spaces, Let’s Talk, and Silver Cloud.

Signs you may want to consider professional help:

  • Depression or persistent sad feelings
  • Severe sleeping or eating changes (too much or too little)
  • Anxiety and excessive worrying
  • Feelings of isolation, helplessness or hopelessness
  • Below-normal energy or physical exhaustion; lack of motivation or interests
  • Thoughts of self, or other harming behavior
  • Behavioral changes (lack of academic motivation, avoiding friends, heavy drug or alcohol use, etc.)

 

Additional Mental Health Resources

YOU@WISC

YOU@WISC is an online portal, specifically designed for UW-Madison to foster student success in three domains: Succeed, Thrive, and Matter.

Center for Healthy Minds

Engage in the resources developed by UW-Madison’s Center for Healthy Minds including live meditations.

Mindfulness Guided Practices

Explore these free online tools through UW Health at your own pace.

Get Involved at Home

There are many ways to get involved on campus or in Madison to apply your new skillset as you develop personally, academically and professionally. Remember, if you have a wanderlust itch that you just can’t scratch, you can also study abroad or intern abroad again!

Continue on the journey you started and build upon your program experience to help catapult you to your next adventure. Read more about opportunities for engagement and returnees stories in the Badgers Beyond Abroad Newsletter and Alumni Profiles.

Your experience is just a new beginning. Where will it take you next?

UW-Madison International Events

Discover all international events on campus.

BRIDGE

The BRIDGE international friendship program connects U.S. students with international students during their first year to assist with the initial adjustment.

GUTS Conversational English Tutoring

Help international students improve their English skills through arranged conversational opportunities.

Institute for Regional and International Studies (IRIS)

Connect with the IRIS area studies centers for newsletters, lectures and events, to explore area studies certificates and majors, or apply for international fellowships and grants.

Morgridge Center for Public Service

Opportunities for service and community engagement through Badger Volunteers and more.

International Internship Program (IIP)

IIP cultivates internships just for Badgers and advises undergraduates seeking their own experiences, credit or funding for an internship abroad.

Language Lab

Audiovisual materials for over 100 foreign languages and other L&S courses are available in the Media Library.

Language Conversation Tables

Continue the language skills you’ve acquired by speaking with other students and native speakers.

Languages at UW-Madison

Explore opportunities to take your language learning beyond the classroom.

Undergraduate Symposium

This annual event showcases undergraduate creativity, achievement, research, service-learning and community-based research from all areas of study.

UW- Madison Libraries

Campus libraries have plentiful international and foreign-language books, newspapers, and media items.

UW Housing Learning and Language Communities

  • International Learning Community (ILC)
    The ILC, located in Adams Hall, offers you the opportunity to be part of a language immersion program in German, Spanish, Japanese, Arabic, Korean, Russian, Nordic (Norwegian, Swedish, Danish), or Chinese languages.
  • The French House is a language immersion residence for UW-Madison students and a French & francophone cultural learning center for the community.

Wisconsin Involvement Network (WIN)

Search the Wisconsin Involvement Network (WIN) to connect to student organizations, including hundreds with cultural and ethnic themes.

WUD Global Connections

Join the Global Connections committee, part of the Wisconsin Union Directorate, and help plan interactive programs and events to foster awareness of global issues and interests.

Lessons from Abroad Conferences

Connect with study abroad returnees nationwide at these conferences.

Centro Hispano

Centro Hispano works to improve the quality of life for Latinos and others living in Dane County by empowering youth, strengthening families, and engaging the community.

Hostelling International – Madison

Serve as an ambassador to the Madison area.

Literacy Network

Opportunities to serve as an English as a Second Language tutor here in Dane County.

Madison Friends of International Students (MFIS)

MFIS connects Madison-area international university and college students, scholars, and any accompanying family with local residents to provide support and assistance, as well as to foster cultural exchange, global goodwill, and friendships around the world.

Madison’s Sister Cities

Get involved with Madison’s sister cities around the world.

Wisconsin English as a Second Language Institute

Opportunities to be a conversation partner, and TEFL Certification for teaching English overseas.

GO BEYOND!

Be creative with using your cross-cultural skills and language skills. Go beyond this list and think about applying language skills by volunteering in courts, hospitals or with non-profit organizations. Explore our city’s distinct neighborhoods, and find other ways to engage in dialogue with members of the Madison community. Go beyond and build upon your experience!

Badger Bridge

This is an exclusive site where UW-Madison alumni and students can come together to offer support in achieving career goals and exploring professional opportunities.

Fulbright Opportunities

U.S. Student Fulbright Program is designed to give recent graduates, graduate candidates, young professionals and artists opportunities for personal development and international experience.

Peace Corps

Visit with the UW-Madison Peace Corps Office to learn about service opportunities after graduation, or find them at campus and community events.

Teach Abroad

Learn about resources and opportunities to teach abroad.

Market Your Experience

The challenges you overcame, the goals you accomplished, and the people and places you encountered along the way all have relevance to your future study, career, and life experiences. Consider how you can use what you learned on your program in your academic studies or career.

Telling stories of your experience to family, friends, and future employers can be a struggle. It’s important to take time to reflect on the way you want to convey your study abroad experience. This helps maximize the impact by telling stories that highlight the skills you gained. Knowing what made your experience unique will set a foundation for sharing your stories.

Study abroad is a unique experience that can set you apart from your peers on a resume, cover letter, or in an interview. Take advantage of resources below to help you present your experiences clearly.

The UW-Madison Language Institute: Career Tools

This site provides a wealth of resources to support your career exploration. On the Resume and Cover Letter tile you will find recommendations and resources for talking about study abroad in resumes and cover letters. Also helpful is the Study Abroad Skills Inventory.

SuccessWorks

Get support researching potential careers, connecting with alumni, looking for a job or internship, applying to graduate school, and more with SuccessWorks. Learn to market your study abroad experience and skills on your resumes and cover letters. Meet with a Career Advisor for feedback and to talk about expressing your experiences in a professional manner.

Students outside L&S can also find tailored resources and advising through their career centers.

UW-Madison Writing Center

Find recommendations for writing professional school application essays, resumes and cover letters in the Job Application and Materials section of their handbook.

 

Campus Career Resources

Campus Career Fairs

Find upcoming campus fairs for all students or specific themes. Engineering hosts separate fairs and your school, college or program may offer additional specific fairs or employer events.

Your Career Center

Find upcoming career events and information on joining Handshake, the campus job site for explore events, internships, jobs and more.

International Career Resources

Government, Policy, International Affairs Career Community

This community in SuccessWorks hosts resources, events and a dedicated advisor for exploring a career in these areas.

GoinGlobal

UW-Madison has a subscription to this resource with Country Guides for working in 30 countries and a search engine for jobs and internships. Find the full access login via the Resources section of Handshake or the top tab of the IIP Database.

International Internship Program

IIP cultivates internships just for Badgers and advises undergraduates seeking their own experiences, credit or funding for an internship abroad.

Create a Portfolio

 

Navigate an Unexpected Return

No matter the reason for your unexpected return from your program, it may be difficult to imagine how an interrupted study abroad experience can lead to growth and opportunity. We encourage you to be proud of the challenges you have, and continue, to overcome. The challenges of an unexpected return demonstrates the importance of the Wisconsin Experience.

“Every Badger is different. Every Wisconsin Experience is different. But our mission to be better people – and to create a better future – is the same.”

As you explore the resources below, we encourage you to connect with UW Study Abroad.  Our team of advisors is available to meet with you by appointment. Even if you don’t have a specific question but would like to talk through your experience, we are here for you!

University Health Services (UHS)

UHS offers services for students including Processing Spaces, Let’s Talk, and Silver Cloud.

YOU@WISC

YOU@WISC is an online portal, specifically designed for UW-Madison to foster student success in three domains: Succeed, Thrive, and Matter.

Center for Healthy Minds

Engage in the resources developed by UW-Madison’s Center for Healthy Minds including live meditations and the webinar Cultivating Purpose in Uncertain Times.

Mindfulness Guided Practices

Explore these free online tools through UW Health at your own pace.

API Toolkit

This toolkit offers reflection and activities on change management and resilience, community engagement and advocacy, empathy, intercultural learning, leadership, mindfulness and strategic planning.

AIFS Abroad Workbook on Navigating Uncertainty

This workbook provides tools and resources for reflecting on your experience and the impact an interrupted program has had on you.

Resources from the Gilman Scholarship Program

This packet has resources and reflection prompts to help you reflect on your experience (however brief it may have been), cope with stress and anxiety, and articulate what you learned from your program and early return.

 

Even if you can’t travel right now, it hasn’t tempered your wanderlust. Here are some resources to help transport you to faraway places.

●       Travel Podcasts

●       The 18 Best TV Shows for Vicarious Travel Thrills

●       Google Arts & Culture

Follow @IAPStudyAbroad on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter to stay connected.

Reach out to your Study Abroad Peers

Continue to find connection with your study abroad cohort. Maybe you could set up an online social time to connect and check in with those you met abroad.

Network with program staff

Have you remained in communication with your program staff? Even though you are not onsite, consider connecting with the staff in your host country to remain engaged for future opportunities to return.

Keep up to date with world events