As you transition back to life at Macalester, keep in mind that there are many ways to continue processing your study away experience.

To your surprise, you might experience culture shock as you return to life in the US and at Macalester. This process is commonly referred to as “re­entry” and merits discussion. While away, you developed new knowledge and skills and may have encountered new belief systems. Continuing to journal and process the experience back on-­campus can be beneficial. Many resources are available both in print and on­line for you to access as you navigate re­entry.

Graphic of fork and knife with caption "Welcome Back Lunch" Graphic of a plant root with caption "Connect With Campus Resources"
Graphic of two people with speech bubbles and caption reading "Facilitate A Discussion At Orientation" Graphic of a camera with caption "KAIGC Photo Contest"
Graphic of three people with caption "Returnee Field Trip" Graphic of a lightbulb with caption "Returnee Lunch Series"

Returnee Events and Peer Engagement

One of the main ways that we invite returnees to engage is through our returnee events. Our events typically are designed to serve one or more of three purposes: fun and celebration, reflection, and call to action. We have six main programming opportunities: the Welcome Back Luncheon, KAIGC Photo Contest, Returnee Lunch Series, Orientation Facilitation, Returnee Field Trip, and other campus resources. We also welcome collaboration with students and offices on campus for returnee programming. Below, you will find descriptions of the various programming opportunities available through the Center for Study Away.

Welcome Back Luncheon

This event is offered at the beginning of each semester to welcome back returnees from study away and includes opportunities to:

  • Enjoy a free lunch
  • Explore the re­entry process
  • Hear about places where you can find support on campus
  • See the faces of the classmates you’ve missed
  • Share reflections and experiences from studying away

KAIGC Photo Contest

The Kofi Annan Institute for Global Citizenship invites you to participate in the KAIGC Photo Contest by submitting a photo and caption that illustrate your personal experience with and understanding of global citizenship as experienced through any Macalester-related activity at the local, national, or international level. The deadline for submission is typically in mid-February. More information will be communicated as the contest begins.

The image shows ten of the previous KAIGC photo contest winners. Each photo is dissected into a polygon shape and all of the photos are put together to form a new image that resembles a star.
Previous KAIGC Photo Contest Winners

Returnee Field Trip/Reintegration Event

The Returnee Field Trip/Reintegration Event, held once per semester, is a workshop and/or field trip for returning students to discuss and process their study away experiences and to imagine how they will integrate what they learned while away into life at Macalester and their future learning. Another objective of the Returnee Reflection Event is to help students engage with the international community in the Twin Cities.

Returnee Lunch Series

The weekly lunches held on most Tuesdays from noon to 1 p.m. are designed to give recent study away returnees a chance to gather with Macalester faculty and staff to reflect on and talk about issues that come up with particular salience to study away programs. Recent topics have included: 

  • Coming Home: Settling In, Getting Closure, Returning and Beyond
  • Family, Friendships, Flirtationships, Frenemies: Processing and Maintaining Relationships Away and at Home
  • Career After Study Away
  • Women’s History Month Special: women who inspired you during study away
  • Food Cultures
  • *Faith While Away (dinner)
  • Roads Open: Grant/Research opportunities, Graduate Programs, local/global community service
  • Mental Health While Away
  • *Where Am I Now? Reflecting on Internationalism, Multiculturalism, and Service on Return
  • Archiving Memories

Orientation Facilitation & Peer Engagement

  • Be an Orientation Facilitator: After you return from your semester away, the Center for Study Away will invite returnees (including you) who have expressed interest to facilitate at in-person pre-departure orientation for students who are studying away in Fall 2019. Returnees who participate as facilitators meet with small groups and are encouraged to share their experiences from study away regarding Identity and Study Away and Responsible Community Engagement. Before the orientation, returnees will meet to share a meal and practice strategies for engaging your table in conversation.
  • Lead a Returnee Lunch Series Event: If you are interested in leading an event for returnees, please contact the to assist you in planning, promoting, and providing food for your event.
  • Discuss Your Study Away Experience with Outgoing Students: There are many opportunities for you to share your study away experience with outgoing study away students:
    • Have your name, major, and email listed as a contact on your study away program’s brochure page.
    • Volunteer to participate in returnee meet-up conversations with outgoing students.
    • Host an event in collaboration with another group/organization with which you’re involved! (The CSA is happy to support this in a number of ways)
    • Write a blog or share your contact information as a resource on one or more of the Equity Resources page(s). 

Macalester Support Resources for Returnees

Macalester Center for Study Away

Macalester Center for Study Away: The Center for Study Away advisors are happy to talk with you before, during, after your time studying away. We can connect you to resources regarding identity and study away, meet to hear feedback about your program or school, or discuss your experience with you to better get to know you.

Civic Engagement Center

Civic Engagement Center: Find ways to connect with your experience abroad through involvement in the local community – this could be through volunteering or pursuing an internship.

Department of Multicultural Life

Department of Multicultural Life (DML): Share and/or process your experiences with students and staff in the various areas or participate in programming, build community, or utilize resources that are relevant to you. Such programming could include but is not limited to:

  • The Lealtad-Suzuki Center (LSC): In particular, the LSC’s signature programs, such as the Allies Project, Identity Collectives, Pluralism and Unity Program, SPEAK! Series, Trenzas, or the C-HOUSE Arts Open House.
  • The Gender & Sexuality Resource Center (GSRC): The GSRC, which, “is hosted by the Department of Multicultural Life as part of our mission to integrate and affirm the peoples, discourses, thoughts, and experiences of marginalized people into the fabric of the Macalester community” provides many links to on- and off-campus resources, people, and communities.

Career Exploration

Career Development Center: Explore ways that your time and experiences studying away could connect to potential internships, career paths, work opportunities, or vocations.

Student Organizations

Student Organizations: Did you develop any new passions, hobbies, or communities while studying away that you may want to continue back at Macalester? Browse through the list of student organizations to connect with a Macalester student organization.

Laurie Hamre Center for Health and Wellness

Laurie Hamre Center for Health and Wellness: If you are experiencing challenges or are feeling anxiety or depression or you have some health concerns that are arising from your time abroad – our health and wellness staff are here to help you as well. The Center for Health and Wellness Center also offers a number of groups to help students address mental health concerns, connect with others, and build new tools and skills. You can see a current list of groups and meeting times on the CWH Website.

Sexual Violence Support Resources

Sexual Violence Prevention and Support:

  • Resources for survivors of sexual violence (sexual assault, sexual harassment, stalking, and dating violence)
  • Resources on how to support a friend or a significant other who has experienced sexual violence
  • Confidential resources at Macalester whom you can contact from away/abroad:

Sexual violence happens here and away.

Sexual violence can happen anywhere—but another layer of complexity is added onto an already difficult situation when students are confronted with these issues while studying away.

Beliefs about gender, sexuality, and violence vary in different local contexts. Members of your host community during study away may have different ideas about what constitutes assault, harassment, and even consent.

The limited research available on sexual violence during study away found that rates of unwanted sexual experiences were higher when students studied abroad than when they were on campus. The majority of incidents were perpetrated by local residents who are not students.

If you are sexually assaulted, it is never your fault.

  • No behavior or choice makes it okay for someone to assault another person.
  • In a study away context, some students who have been assaulted start to believe that they made an error in judgment that allowed an assault to happen. Common reactions include: “I should have understood the cultural context better;” “Maybe that type of behavior is considered acceptable here;” or “Am I being culturally insensitive?” While these reactions are understandable, it’s important to remember that regardless of where sexual violence happens (home, Mac, or away), it is still not your fault.

Pathways to Safety International:

  • A resource created to specifically address the needs for prevention and response to American sexual assault survivors overseas—or those who may experience sexual violence while abroad.
  • To call from within the U.S. or Canada, simply dial: +1 833.723.3833
  • To contact the toll-free crisis line from outside of the U.S. or Canada:
    • Find the AT&T USADirect access code for the country you are currently in (you can find this access code at
    • Dial the access code for the country you are currently in
    • At the prompt, dial: 833.723.3833
  • Email: . All crisis emails will be responded to within six hours.

o Live chat online:

Re-Entry and Culture Shock Resources

Suggestions for Navigating the Re-Entry Process:

Based on our experience working with students returning to Mac, we offer the following suggestions for navigating the re-entry process:

Accept Frustration:

The real key to re-entry is anticipating that there may be some frustration with adjusting to life in the U.S. and at Mac – that the frustrations are a normal part of the total learning process and an ongoing part of the entire cross-cultural experience.

Go Slow:

Be patient with yourself. Remember that you adjusted to your host country and you can re-adjust here. Use the same coping skills and activities that helped while you were abroad. Get as involved as you can in campus life. Be kind to yourself in your re-adjustment as well as to others who are re-adjusting to you. Suspend judgment until a later, more settled time and keep your sense of humor.


Return to the habits, activities, and places that you love and missed—and re-experience them anew. Take friends with you and let them know what you missed about them while you were away.

Be Involved:

Spend time with people who care about what has happened to you and who have common experiences. Find or re-engage in groups, departments, or people that are building community in a way that feels meaningful to you.


Engage your friends in your experience by showing pictures, cooking foods, sharing objects and stories, or watching movies from your host country. Remember, however, that they have had new experiences and challenges while you’ve been abroad too so be sure to ask them about those. Remember, too, that your experience is your own and be aware of your impact when you share your perceptions or experiences of/with your host country/community/culture.


Share your new interests, perspectives or ideas with others. Write about your experience for campus or other publications. You can talk with the Civic Engagement Center to explore ways to connect your experience away with the local community through engagement.

Keep in Touch: 

Remember to keep in contact with your host family and the friends you’ve made while studying away. This will not only help with homesickness for your host country but also keep those connections alive for future visits.

Consider journaling.

Continuing to update a journal to document important memories and as a means of reflection can be very helpful. You can visit the library to talk with the campus Archivist and Special Collections Librarian, Ellen Holt-Werle to get ideas for how to document your study away experience.

Check the Center for Study Away Calendar for more information