NC Chapel Hill: Reverse Culture Shock

By Emily (North Carolina, USA)

When I was told about this I silently scoffed at the idea. How could anyone not be comfortable with returning home?

And yet here I am only days after returning home not feeling fully happy with my environment. For those using this blog to help gain an insight into study abroad, I apologise as this will not feel relevant to you until after you return home. This won’t be relatable to many but yet it is here anyway.


In preparation for us leaving The University of Manchester sent out a handbook advising us on what exchange would be like and how to prepare. Within this pack of information there was a nondescript graph which genuinely came to accurately represent my feelings about studying and living abroad. I think I’m in the final stage of readjustment now though.

At LHR I bumped into three other students who had also been at UNC for the semester. They all expressed their happiness to be home after a challenging semester. The culture shock clearly doesn’t happen to everyone and even though I found the semester difficult in parts, I felt differently to the others returning home. I wish I could’ve studied there longer.

W curve of culture shock

Even now, six days after returning home, it still feels strange to be home. Although I’m sure the rapid change from full days of revision and work in the US to the continuous summer ahead of me in the UK must contribute to my feelings.

I was only abroad for a semester, and I’m not entirely sure if the choice is available to everyone but I think it was possible for me to have chosen to study abroad for a whole year, which would make my three-year degree into a four-year one. If you’re worried about not enjoying it but are tempted to go for the full year, I would definitely promote it – I wish I had had longer!

It’s strange to me that I’ve become one of ‘those’ students. Before I left Manchester I met a couple through information sessions, they spoke so highly of their time abroad, and how they would go back in a heartbeat. I wondered if that was possible for me as I loved my friends in Manchester and my student life and knew that I would worry about missing out. However a year later I’m here wishing I could start it all again.

(Maybe without the paperwork and visa hassle though!)

Some nostalgic clips from my time abroad:


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