Skip to main content
A girl standing in front of a plane

Laura Buchanan

SFU Co-op Student
Communication, Art + Technology › Communication

empty
People on Mount Fuji
Credit
Lana Bezglasna
Traveling after your placement is also a great opportunity to experience even more of the culture and country that you have been living in and it gives you time to reflect on all that you have learned.

As anyone who has spent a significant amount of time immersed in another culture knows, coming home is often bittersweet.  While you may be anxious to get back to your “familiar” life and use the skills and experiences that you gained abroad to move forward in your education, career and personal life, you may also feel misunderstood, isolated, lonely or disconnected from the people you love.

“Overwhelming” is how Lana Bezglasna, a Communication student who spent 8 months teaching English in Japan with Peppy Kids Club, describes the first couple of weeks home, “I felt a bit like an outsider, as if I lived in my own little bubble”.  Having grown accustomed to a certain degree of not being able to understand her surroundings in Japan, she felt her senses over stimulated from the amount of information she understood once back home.

Temple in tokyo

Arriving back in Canada the day before school was set to begin, Lana jumped right back into her old student-life routine, spending a lot of time reconnecting with family and friends, and trying to catch up on everything that she had missed while away.“A great way to gradually re-integrate yourself into the Western environment is to go traveling after living abroad,” Lana shares, “while traveling, people usually meet a lot of foreigners who speak English.”  Traveling after your placement is also a great opportunity to experience even more of the culture and country that you have been living in and it gives you time to reflect on all that you have learned.

The readjustment process can also leave the sojourner with another form of unexpected homesickness - missing your host country.  “The friendships that you make while living abroad are very strong,” Lana says, “You have to open up quickly to the people surrounding you because there is no one else around who speaks the same language as you!”  She stresses the importance of this community of friends to whom you can fully relate and who would be able to understand you perfectly because it is easier to establish a stronger sense of understanding and unity.  Lana recommends staying in close contact once you return home with the friends you made while abroad.  You can share with people who can relate to your experiences better than anyone at home.

Be prepared for people’s interest in your international co-op experience not to be as high as you might have hoped.  Don’t take it as an insult; they’ve had lives going on while you were away and maybe haven’t experienced such a life-altering 8 months.  Therefore, they can’t understand where you are coming from.  Having said this, keep in mind there is an interested audience including your parents, your fellow international co-op students, co-op students interested on going international and your co-op advisors.

Your international placement will have changed you, giving you a new perspective on the world, so naturally, you will experience the “familiar” through new eyes.  There are many people at SFU who are here to help you with your transition back into the Vancouver lifestyle.  Post some thoughts and network with other students who have returned from international co-op placements in the Working Internationally Forum, visit your home co-op coordinator, or drop by the international co-op office (MBC 1100).  Trained counselors are available at SFU’s Health and Counseling Centre if you want someone to talk to as well.

About the Author

A girl standing in front of a plane

Laura Buchanan

SFU Co-op Student
Communication, Art + Technology › Communication

You Might Like These... International, Life Experience, Co-operative Education

Korea
International Spotlight: Korea

Bordered by China, Russia, and separated from Japan by the Korea Strait, Korea makes for a strong international hub of Asia.

California
International Spotlight: California

Sunny California is not only one of the favorite tourist destinations but also a state with a variety of opportunities.

Kaleigh sitting on a cliff staring out to the wilderness
My Co-op Work Term in Gaborone | Part Two

In Part 2 of her series, Health Sciences Co-op student Kaleigh Banister gets into the local Gabarone culture and takes a bit of time to explore the natural wonders she’s surrounded by.

People on Mount Fuji
library_books
Blog
Re-Entry Culture Shock: The Sojourner’s Homecoming
International, Intercultural Communication, Career Exploration, Personal Development, Mental Health

Trying to decide if going on an International Co-op Placement is right for you?  Follow these words of advice so you can make a well informed decision.

People on Mount Fuji
library_books
Blog
Re-Entry Culture Shock: The Sojourner’s Homecoming
International, Intercultural Communication, Career Exploration, Personal Development, Mental Health

Trying to decide if going on an International Co-op Placement is right for you?  Follow these words of advice so you can make a well informed decision.

People on Mount Fuji
library_books
Blog
Re-Entry Culture Shock: The Sojourner’s Homecoming
International, Intercultural Communication, Career Exploration, Personal Development, Mental Health

Trying to decide if going on an International Co-op Placement is right for you?  Follow these words of advice so you can make a well informed decision.

You Might Like These... International

Article Banner
SFU Joins National Conversation on International Learning Experiences for Students

SFU has joined the Canadian Bureau for International Education’s (CBIE) Learning Beyond Borders (LBB) initiative to inspire more students to take advantage of learning experiences in other countries. Learn more about this initiative and what is means for you! 

The European Spirit (ship) on the ocean
I’m on a (Big Big) Boat

Follow Soloman on an adventure to Los Angeles as his company "throws" him out to sea on a large vessel to test out filming at sea. Here's the story.

A woman flying away
International Students: Break Through The Wall That Blocks You!

Are you an international student that feels like there is a wall that stops you from moving forward? Are you trying to improve your language level, but feel embarrassed communicating in English? You're not the only one. But there are people who are reaching their goals. Find your inspiration and become one of them.