2.2 - If You Are Preparing to Return Home Soon

 

If You Are Preparing to Return Home Soon

 

Anticipation and Expectation Exercises B & C

PLEASE READ THIS PAGE AND DO THE FOLLOWING SELF-EVALUATION EXERCISE ON ANTICIPATION AND EXPECTATIONS BEFORE YOU GO FURTHER

If you are using this section of the website because you are soon going home after a period of study abroad, we appreciate that this may have been one of the most interesting and intense periods of your life so far. You also may have some mixed feelings about saying goodbye and returning to old routines. Part of what this resource tries to do is to examine how one’s personal background and cultural values affect, in part, how you have perceived others who think and behave differently and how they may have perceived you. But in addition, we hope that by going through some self-reflective exercises at various stages of your journey, you can gain additional insights into the kinds of personal changes a study abroad program can bring about. This is particularly true in terms of one’s perceptions about the self and others, both before and after a period of intense cross-cultural exposure.

Note: If you previously filled out the earlier pre-departure self-reflection exercise (Section 1.1) about your feelings as you got ready to go overseas, please fill out both Anticipation and Expectation Exercises B & C. We will offer some advice below on how to compare your pre-departure concerns (which were mostly theoretical) and those of Exercise B, which are based on your actual experience.

If you did NOT fill out the pre-departure self-reflection exercise noted above, please skip Exercise B and go directly to Exercise C.

 

Exercise B

What we ask you to do is to write your own personal responses to the questions below. Be as honest as you can. Your responses should reflect how you feel right now, before coming home. When you are finished, either print them out and put them in a place you can retrieve them at a later time or save them on a computer. We will refer to them in later sections dealing with readjusting after reentry, where you will be given the opportunity to compare them with your prior answers about your expectations.

 

We believe taking this exercise seriously will eventually assist you to better gauge how the process of overseas adaptation has played out for you personally. It will also facilitate your understanding about how expectations, realistic and unrealistic, play a role in how well you adapt and how you feel about it in retrospect. So take a few minutes and fill out the following questions and put them in a safe place. We promise it will be worth your effort. We will refer to this and earlier Anticipation and Expectation Exercises in sections which follow.

 

  1. The five things that I enjoyed most about studying abroad were:

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

 

  1. Five things that were difficult or bothered me the most while I have been abroad are:

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

 

  1. The five things I missed most about home while I have been abroad are:

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

 

  1. The five things (people, places, activities, etc., in America) I have missed least since I have been abroad are:

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

  1. My greatest single challenge while I have been abroad has been:

!!  

 

  

Commentary: What One Might Learn from a Comparison of Answers

 

You made a list some months ago (in the Anticipation and Expectation Exercise A) on the basis of what you anticipated things would be like when you got overseas. You can now directly compare what you thought it would be like to your new list of what it has actually been like. There are a number of things that such a comparison might suggest: 

  1. Sometimes there are substantial differences between what one expected overseas study to be like and how it actually turned out. For example, things you worried about and thought were going to cause problems or be difficult to deal with, turn out not to have been as big a challenge as you anticipated. What you feared would be your greatest challenge sometimes turns out to be far less of an issue than something you had no idea about before you left home, but which turned out to be much more of a problem than you could have imagined.  
  1.  Sometimes the things we are looking forward to the most fail to transpire or are less enjoyable or interesting than we had originally believed they would be.
  1. Circumstances and actual daily life abroad can be magic one day and really trying the next. Often our projections about what overseas life is going to be like are not only incorrect but based on inadequate or romanticized visions. Confronting reality once abroad, although painful, often leads to personal growth and a far deeper understanding and appreciation of things cultural.
  1. Looking back upon our pre-departure aspirations and preconceptions can be a bit embarrassing because we can see rather clearly how little experiential knowledge we had, and how much some of our goals and expectations were naïve projections rather than realistic aspirations.
  1. Comparing pre- and post-sojourn perceptions is a good way to become more sensitive to the role preconceptions play in study abroad, and how much such preconceptions can influence how satisfied we are about how our study abroad experience progressed.
  1. If there is any one lesson to be gained, it might be that to the extent to which one can resist the tendency make too many preliminary judgments about “how things will be” in transition situations like study abroad, the more satisfied one might be about the outcome. Someone once said: Unrealistic Expectations = Premature Disappointments! As always, we advise students to allow experiences to unfold and be open and flexible, including applying what you have learned about adjustment when contemplating issues involved in returning home.
  1. Think about the points above as you compare your own lists and then consider:

 

HOW MIGHT ANY OF THIS APPLY TO MY CURRENT IDEAS ABOUT WHAT RETURNING HOME WILL BE LIKE AND HOW THOSE AROUND ME MIGHT REACT? 

 

 

 Please continue on to...

 

Exercise C

What we ask you to do is to write your own personal responses to the questions below. Be as honest as you can. Your responses should reflect how you feel right now, before coming home. When you are finished, either print them out and put them in a place you can retrieve them at a later time or save them on a computer. We will refer to them in later sections dealing with readjusting after reentry, where you will be given the opportunity to compare them with your prior answers about your expectations.

 

We believe taking this exercise seriously will eventually assist you to better gauge how the process of overseas adaptation has played out for you personally. It will also facilitate your understanding about how expectations, realistic and unrealistic, play a role in how well you adapt and how you feel about it in retrospect. So take a few minutes and fill out the following questions and put them in a safe place. We promise it will be worth your effort.

  1. The five things that I worry about most when thinking about going home are:

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

 

  1. The five things I missed most about America since I have been abroad are:

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

 

  1. Once I return home from overseas the five things (people, places, circumstances, etc.) I believe I will miss the least about living abroad are:

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

 

  1. The five things (people, places, activities, etc.) I believe I will miss most from abroad once I have returned home are:

 1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

 


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