Wrap Things Up

Processing Your International Experience

Returning home from your international experience gives you the opportunity to consider how your perspectives may have changed. Below are some questions taken from this website (http://international.nd.edu/education-abroad/for-returning-students/) that may help you wrap up your experience, and help you articulate what you have learned, and skills you have gained.

About the host culture
  • What have I learned while in the host culture(s) that I did not know previously? How has this changed my view of the host culture(s)?
  • What was I able to learn about different aspects of the host culture(s) including non-academic areas; for instance, how are children and the elderly treated in the host culture(s)?
  • What stereotypes did I have of the host culture(s) before I lived there? Have these changed in any way?
  • Did I pick up any new stereotypes or biases? Are they valid?
  • If I studied a language, how has that changed my views of the host culture(s)? Is my language study complete or do I need to study it further in order to perfect my language skills and understand the culture?
  • What can I do to continue deepening my understanding of the host culture(s)?
About your home culture
  • How have my attitudes about my home culture changed? What has caused these changes?
  • By being abroad and able to compare my culture with a different culture(s), what have I learned about the history, values and traditions that make up my home culture?
  • What can I do to continue deepening my understanding of my home culture?
About myself
  • How have I changed during my time abroad?
  • Do I feel more confident, independent or cosmopolitan?
  • How can I express these changes to my friends and family in a non-threatening manner?
  • How have my personal values changed because of my experience?

Resources and suggestions for promoting your experience

Studying abroad can be a valuable resource when it comes to graduate school and to future career opportunities. Graduate school admissions look for students to display diversity and show that they are not afraid to handle difficult situations and seek out new challenges.

Employers are looking for individuals that are able to bring what they need and extra to their company, your experience abroad could be that ‘extra’ that they are looking for. During your time abroad and unbeknownst to you, you may have developed or enhanced skills that employers are looking for:

  • Ability to verbally communicate with persons inside and outside the organization.
  • Ability to work in a team structure
  • Ability to make decisions and solve problems
  • Ability to plan, organize, and prioritize work
  • Ability to obtain and process information
  • Ability to analyze quantitative data
  • Ability to create and/or edit written reports
  • Ability to sell to or influence others

Reflect on your past roles and international experiences and identify transferable skills that you used or developed. Draw upon your study abroad experiences, coursework, student organization involvement, internships, professional experiences, and volunteer work.

How to Market the Study Abroad Experience for Grad School or for Jobs
  • What new skills do I possess? For example: knowledge of a different culture(s), adaptation skills, second-language proficiency, creative problem-solving, tolerance, increased human relations skills, a foreign language etc.
  • In what ways can I apply what I learned abroad for personal, academic or career-related development?

Additional Resources: