Returning Home from College: Reverse Culture Shock

In our last post, we discussed the culture shock that often occurs when students head to college.  Some students, and their parents, may not be prepared for the roller coaster ride as students become acclimated to their new environment.  Knowing that the ups and downs that students experience are normal will help everyone.

Once your student has made the transition to school and begun to feel comfortable in their new ”culture” of college, both of you may feel that the transition is complete.  However, an important stage remains — returning home again.  Whether the return is relatively brief — for winter break or summer vacation perhaps — or whether it is a more permanent move back home, you and your student should be prepared for potential re-entry awkwardness and difficulties.  Once again, however, the process is normal.  Understanding it may help.

The reverse culture shock of returning home may take your student by surprise because it is unexpected and because they don’t realize how much both of you, have changed during the transition time.  This second transition process may be especially difficult because it is unexpected.

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The Culture Shock of Adjusting to College

Adjusting to college life is often harder than most first year students and their parents anticipate.  Students know that life at college is going to be different, and they are excited, and perhaps a bit anxious, about starting their adventure.  But it’s difficult to anticipate how different life may be when you don’t exactly know what to expect.  College is, for many students, a foreign culture.

Most students don’t equate entering college to entering a different culture.  When we talk about culture, we often refer to those things that we do and accept without really thinking about them: our way of life.  We have expectations, values, ways of talking, eating, behaving, relating to each other, and even thinking — but we don’t give these things any conscious thought most of the time.  When your student heads to college, they may need to think consciously about how they manage much of their daily life.  They need to adjust — and that adjustment will come gradually.

Making the cultural adjustment

Most students make the adjustment to college life eventually.  However, each student may adjust according to a different timetable.  Some students may find that the adjustment comes fairly easily — they hardly realize that it is happening.  Other students find the process difficult, slow, and even painful at times.  However, the stages of cultural adjustment are similar for most everyone.  If you’ve ever spent a significant amount of time in a foreign country, you may have experienced these phases yourself.

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Shaking Up the Nest: When Your College Student Comes Home for Break

Your student has been away at school for several weeks or months and it’s finally time for them to return home for a holiday break. You’re excited to see them and can’t wait to catch up on their life at college. You’ve planned favorite meals and anticipate finally spending some quality time with your student. You’ve survived the empty nest, but you’re looking forward to filling it up again — at least for a little while.

What you may not realize, however, is how much you’ve adjusted to that empty nest. It seemed so quiet and empty in those first days after you dropped your student off at school. But now you’ve had time to get used to the quiet — and you may not even realize it. You’ve adjusted to fewer dirty dishes, less laundry, and turning out the lights when you go to bed because no one else is coming home later.

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Has Your College Student Gotten a Flu Shot?

Chances are good that your college student may not have done the one thing that could make a difference in her health this winter — get a flu shot. Because college students live so closely together in residence halls, once the flu begins, it can spread quickly throughout a campus. Yet according to a study done by Janet Yang at the University of Buffalo, (as reported by Huffington Post) only about 8 percent of college students received a flu shot in a recent year.

Why do college students skip this seemingly simply solution?

One reason students may not be getting vaccinated is because they know that they are not in the groups that are at highest risk of death or other serious consequences from flu. Students may also not be thinking about the seriousness of flu because it is an annual disease and we hear about it every year. Students have stopped paying attention — or never really paid attention to messages in the first place.

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