Global Campus helps returning students adjust

Heather Fors

After months of studying abroad, immersed in another culture, returning home can be just as much of an adjustment as leaving.
To smooth out that transition, the Global Campus held the first Study Abroad Re-entry Event on Friday evening in Coffman Union.
Nodding heads affirmed the sentiments of various speakers as they addressed an audience of more than 100 travel-seasoned students.
“I think the people who have come — you can just tell that they want to talk about their experience,” said Corey Bulman, a senior English major who studied in England spring quarter.
Students leave their homes knowing they face another culture as an outsider, said Global Campus director Al Balkcum. But after returning, students are on their own to acclimate themselves to their old life.
Oftentimes, study-abroad students have a difficult time relaying to those at home what a profound impact their experiences had on them.
The stories of biology junior Wole Awoyinka had to stay on the shelf when he returned home, as his family and friends were eager to catch him up on their lives.
“I’d come back and talk with friends and they’d share, but I wasn’t so into sharing,” said Awoyinka. “It really gets abridged.”
By talking to others who’d studied abroad and by working in the Global Campus office, Awoyinka said he felt more at home.
But the experiences abroad continuously affect the way students look at life.
“It makes you more critical of your culture, but it makes you more understanding of how the world works,” said Bulman, who also works in the Global Campus office.
Bulman said seeing foreign cultures firsthand is significantly different than what is seen in the media.
Bonnie Meyer, an international business and marketing major, also learned this during her trip to Seville, Spain, last fall.
“Here you take things for granted, like going to a store,” Meyer said. “But there, going to a store was a big deal.”
Not only are the products and stores different but converting prices and money offered an extra challenge, she said.
University President Mark Yudof had similar sentiments about going abroad. He said the experiences of being in other countries supplements one’s decision-making and teaches people that their way of thinking is not the only way.
Yudof announced the University’s plan to ask the Legislature for $1 million to $2 million for the study abroad programs. Yudof also said Gov. Arne Carlson plans to push to get more money in order to cultivate study abroad programs in colleges throughout the state.
While Balkcum said he plans to make re-entry events a regular study abroad experience, he also wants to get students who’ve been abroad more involved on campus.
He said he wants to use the students’ experiences to help classes become more globally oriented.