Returning from abroad and adjusting to life back at home, and UCLA, can be a whirlwind! At the IEO, we want all students to feel well adjusted and comfortable after their program ends. See below for tips and tricks to promote your well-being after your return.


Time Difference

If you are arriving from a different time zone and are feeling exhausted, have indigestion and loss of appetite, experience concentration/memory issues, you may be experiencing jet-lag. Jet-lag is a side-effect of traveling across time zones that affects everyone differently.

Here are some tips and tricks to help with your adjustment back into the Pacific-time zone:

  • Increase exposure to daylight, if possible
  • Stay hydrated
  • Avoid alcohol/caffeine
  • Exercise/stay active

Routine Care

Occasionally, students returning from abroad may feel ill. If you get sick, develop flu-like symptoms, or notice your physical health decreasing, please speak with your healthcare provider.

If you missed any regular check-ups will abroad, we encourage you to connect with your health care provider.


There are many resources available to you as a UCLA student. Should you find yourself in distress, in need of professional assistance, or find it beneficial to speak with someone, please contact:

UCLA Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS)
John Wooden Center West
221 Westwood Plaza
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1556

Phone: (310) 825-0768
After-hours crisis counseling available by phone

Lu Valle Commons
398 Portola Plaza
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1556 (basement level next to convenient store)

Phone: (310) -825 – 9039


UCLA Ashe Center
221 Westwood Plaza
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1556

General Line: 310-825-4073
24/7 Nurse Line: 310-825-4073 (Option 2)


Reverse Culture Shock

When returning home, it’s not unusual for students to feel out of place or as though home is different. This experience is called Reverse Culture Shock. Reverse Culture Shock is the psychological and emotional aspects of reentry. It is the discomfort of being home, acceptance of self-growth, and readjustment to being home.

Why do we have Reverse Culture Shock?

While abroad, students learn to adapt to a new environment and new culture. This new adaptation, unknowingly, becomes a part a student’s identity, and their new normal. They develop new routines, perspectives, relationships, and values. Students adapt to this new normal, to feel comfortable, secure, and relaxed – to make this new place their home.

When leaving their study abroad experience, a student’s lifestyle must once again adapt to being in a new environment. With the new values, perspectives, relationships, and experiences a student had, they now view their home differently than when they left and may have a difficult time adjusting to no longer being abroad, and their new normal.

What to expect from Reverse Culture Shock?

Students may miss their host country, university, food, friends, and way of life. During this time, students may experience:

  • Withdrawal from friends, family, or activities
  • Frequent frustration, anger, irritability, and/or sadness
  • Critical towards your culture, or home city/country
  • Change in relationships
  • Loss of sleep and/or appetite
  • Uncertainty of the future
  • Desire to return abroad

Who experiences Reverse Culture Shock and for how long?

Reverse Culture shock is common in study abroad returnees – though it does not happen to everyone. It can arise within a few days , weeks, or months after returning home.

Surpassing reverse culture shock depends on the students approach to readjustment, but can vary from a few weeks to a few years. The best approach to overcome reverse culture shock is to understand what it is and know that your emotions are valid and normal.

Tips for surpassing Reverse Culture Shock

Below you’ll find helpful tips to help you readjust to life at home after your study abroad experience. This is not an exhaustive list. If there was an approach that helped you while you were learning to adjust to life abroad, feel free to use that method when returning home.

  • Document your study abroad experience : You may have wonderful stories from all your adventures abroad and it is natural to want to share with your loved ones, but after some time, you may feel as though they no longer are interested in hearing about your study abroad experiences. It is not that they don’t want to hear you, it is that they weren’t there and they cannot understand nor reflect on these experiences with you. Don’t let this bring you down. Try this instead:

Journal: Keep a journal of your stories, memories, and experiences abroad. They’re also a great piece to reflect on in the future.

Blog: There are a lot of students who are looking into studying abroad, or are currently abroad and want to know tips and tricks to moving around the city, or finding the best restaurant, or the cheapest flight to another country. Sharing about your experience in a blog helps you vocalize your experience while also helping others!

Volunteer at the IEO: We are always looking for students to share more about their program to future study abroad students. What better way to relive your experience than to convince other students to study abroad. Email for more information.

  • Reflect: After your study abroad experience, take some time to reflect on how your experience has made influenced who you are. What have you learned? What values, perspectives, or opinions are different? How can these changes be reflected in your home culture, and how can they help you adapt?
  • Keep in touch with study abroad peers: Communication with your study abroad peers does not have to end with the experience. Keep in touch with those whom you shared experiences with. This may help you share the experience of readjusting to life at home with others who may be experiencing the same challenges.