Stage Four

STEP 12: Stay Healthy as You Come Home

It's easy to forget that you may have some health issues coming home. Take care of yourself when the time comes. You can again experience travel fatigue, jet lag, and even culture shock, so give yourself a break.

Once home, you may feel tired, a bit disoriented, and a bit out of step with your friends who didn't travel away from campus. It can be disappointing to realize that few people, regardless of how interested they might be, will listen for very long to others' work, study, or volunteer abroad experiences. So connect with those who share your excitement, and at the same time, listen to the experiences your friends had while you were gone. Monitoring your regular health issues, emotions, diet and exercise are all part of getting reconnected at home to what you like, want, and need to keep yourself healthy.

This checklist of things to do can help you plan to stay healthy as you return home:

  • Read your program's reentry advice before you start traveling home.
  • Prepare for healthy international travel in the same way you did when arriving abroad (see Step 8. Travel Safely).
  • Give yourself time to get over jet lag before you plunge headlong into home and school.
  • Make all the appointments you need to address special health issues that developed overseas or ongoing health issues that you manage.
  • Do tell your friends and family about your experiences, but also find other enthusiastic travelers and listen to their experiences too.
  • Be honest and straightforward in helping your friends, family, and faculty understand how you have grown-your newfound confidence, intellectual growth, and interests.
  • Consider volunteering as a peered-abroad adviser, a foreign student host, or a refugee volunteer. Find some activity that helps you to use your experience and keep it alive.

So, welcome home. And now with all this experience, it's time to figure out how to finance and plan another international adventure!