Re-entry Integration and Application

Studying away from campus is not only about the experience, but also about how you integrate new knowledge, skills, and perspectives into your life upon returning. The best way to do that is to spend some time introspectively looking at the influence it has had in you. Here are a few questions to get you started:

On personal change:

  • How have my style, time, and food preferences changed?
  • How have my emotions changed?
  • What perspectives of mine have changed?
  • What did I learn about my own culture that frustrates or excites me?
  • How has my faith been transformed?

On re-entry:

  • What is hard for me to have patience with now that I am back?
  • Do I respond differently now in social situations?
  • Were different transitions more difficult than others?
  • Did I experience any reverse culture shock? If so, how did I respond to that?

On relationships:

  • What were my expectations for my family and friends when I returned from studying abroad?
  • How have my friendships and relationships changed?
  • Who do I now feel are my close friends?
  • How do I plan to communicate my study abroad experience to my friends and family?

On vocational change:

  • How has studying abroad changed my future goals and dreams?
  • What are my new views on politics and social justice? How do these new views affect my vocational goals?
  • How can I apply what I learned while abroad to my future goals?

Continue to reflect on your experience by thinking through the questions in the Study Away: Self-Reflection Questions individually or with a small group. Help speak into the lives of other students and the APU community. Be an effective voice for the people and issues you’ve seen first-hand.

On-Campus Re-Entry Programs and Resources

Be sure to maximize each event and resource available for all Study Away Alumni listed in On-campus Opportunities. There are valuable re-entry celebrations, reunions, and resources each semester.

Tips for Navigating Some of the Re-entry Process:

  • How was your trip?
    • In our culture, this is a common question that people will ask. Why not be prepared for it and make the most of it? Respond to the question by offering information about a specific event, specific person, or thing that happened while you were abroad to share. Or tell them what you are still 'thinking' through.
    • Try to have a 30-second answer and a 3-minute answer to use depending on who is asking and the context. Think about who you would like to ask to meet for coffee/tea later so you can really catch up and talk more.
    • Try not to think poorly of people that ask this question in passing and may not really engage in your response. Just like saying “How are you?” can sometimes just mean “hello” in the U.S., “How was your trip?” can sometimes just mean “Hi!" or “Let's talk more later.” Remember to ask about their last semester. Ask yourself, “How much am I listening to others?”
  • Plan a Get-Together with Multiple People. This way you can share your experiences and pictures with them all at the same time. Be sure to ask how their previous months were as well.
  • Inside jokes exclude others. Be aware of how often you change the topic to talk about your personal experiences abroad, especially if there is a mixed group present with those who studied away and a few who did not.
  • Be a MODEL of what you want to see HERE. Become a servant. Are you hoping people might change their perspective about something? Model how to do that in a kind way.
  • Join or create a group on campus or in your community. Meet new people with similar passions. Hang out with students from around the world that are studying abroad here through APU's International Center and A.I.M. program.
  • Stay connected to the experience. Read your journal or blog. Reflect on all you learned and prayerfully consider ways to incorporate those things into your daily life. It might take time, but if there are things you want to change, it can happen one day at a time.
  • Pay it forward. Look for ways that you can invest in others to have a similar experience or to learn what you learned through local means. We have lots of ways to connect with upcoming study abroad students and alumni.
  • Continue learning and growing. Investigate ways to incorporate some of the activities you did, perspectives you gained, foods you ate, music you listened to, and more into your daily lifestyle now. Incorporate what you learned into your views and the decisions that you are making now.

Additional Re-Entry Resources:


Adeney, B. (1995). Strange Virtues: Ethics in a Multicultural World. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press.

Bouma-Prediger, S., & Walsh, B. J. (2008). Beyond Homelessness: Christian Faith in a Culture of Displacement. Grand Rapids, Mich.: William B. Eerdmans Pub.

Clinton, J. R. (1988). The Making of a Leader. Colorado Springs, Colo.: NavPress.

Corbett, S., & Fikkert, B. (2009). When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor...And Yourself. Chicago: Moody Publishers.

Frost, M. (2006). Exiles: Living Missionally in a Post-Christian Culture. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

Gmelch, G. (2000). Lessons from the Field Conformity and Conflict (pp. 45-55). Upper Saddle River: Allyn & Bacon.

Hicks, D. A., & Valeri, M. R. (2008). Global Neighbors: Christian Faith and Moral Obligation in Today's Economy. Grand Rapids, Mich.: William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co.

Hunter, J. D. (2010). To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy & Possibility of Christianity in the late Modern World. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press.

Jackson, M. (2002). The Politics of Storytelling: Violence, Transgression and Intersubjectivity. Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press.

Kauffmann, N. L. et al (1992). Students Abroad: Strangers at Home: Education for a Global Society. Yarmouth, Maine: Intercultural Press.

Slimbach, R. (2010). Becoming World Wise: A Guide to global Learning. Sterling: Stylus Publishing.

Turner, V. (1969). The Ritual Process: Structure and Anti-Structure. Chicago: Aldine Publishing Company.

Volf, M. (1996). Exclusion and Embrace : A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness, and Reconciliation. Nashville: Abingdon Press.

Literature Links

Becoming More Human, Building a Better World,” Eric Hartman

Coming Home: Relationships, Roots and Unpacking,” J. Citron and V. Mendelson

Why We Travel,” Pico Iyer

The Land of Big Groceries, Big God and Smooth Traffic: What surprises first time visitors to America