Frequently Asked Questions - Returning from Abroad
Information about registration at Richmond can be found on the Registrar’s web page. Before students go abroad, they are given the option to sign a proxy release form, which is intended to help students register for classes at Richmond for the term they return to campus. This form allows students to indicate their permission for the Registrar’s Office to discuss their pre-registration for the following term with their parents/guardians as indicated or allow a parent/guardian to request an official transcript on the student’s behalf while the student is abroad.
Please visit the UR Housing Office's study abroad website for instructions on paying your student’s UR housing deposit, how on-campus housing works for returned study abroad students, what happens if your student ends up on a waiting list, and other important information. Please note that housing on campus is not guaranteed for fall semester study abroad students who are returning to campus in the spring.
If your student spends more than four weeks in a country with a high incidence of tuberculosis (TB), we strongly recommend s/he get tested for TB approximately 8-12 weeks after returning from abroad. All countries except the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and those in Western Europe are considered high risk. For more information, please visit http://www.cdc.gov/tb/publications/factsheets/general/tbtravelinfo.htm.
Testing may be done at the Student Health Center (during the regular academic year), a local Health Department or your physician's office.
Your student should contact the Student Health Center at DANmail@richmond.edu or 804-289-8700 (UR Dial-A-Nurse) to schedule an appointment for testing, to report that s/he has been tested, or for any questions.
While abroad, your student may have experienced "culture shock.” This well-studied phenomenon refers to the loss of emotional equilibrium suffered when one leaves a familiar environment, especially when moving between countries or cultures. Now, as your student returns home, “reverse culture shock” can occur and can be, for some students, a more difficult transition.
Although the symptoms of reverse culture shock are similar to those of initial culture shock, they are often unexpected. The symptoms can vary in severity and may include minor illnesses, depression, withdrawal, lethargy, and excessive longing to go abroad again. Your student may be concerned about the pressures of returning to the University of Richmond, sorting out transfer credits, adjusting to the next academic year, and/or planning for life beyond graduation.
It is not uncommon for returning students to be surprised that life at Richmond has continued without them and to find that they are out of touch with happenings and people on campus. In addition your student may be eager to talk about his/her experiences abroad, but his/her friends who did not study abroad may not be as eager to listen and may not understand where your student has been – both in a physical and psychological sense. These are all normal reactions and part of the re-entry process.
In order to help returning students with re-entry or reverse culture shock, our office offers various events and opportunities. One of our first events of the year is a re-entry event where returnees are invited to come and talk, laugh, and reflect about their time abroad. We ask returning students to participate in the annual study abroad fair and to be our "expert" advisors at pre-departure orientations.
Returned study abroad students are encouraged to join our Ambassador Club, a buddy system that pairs them with new international students, and to participate in international events and organizations on campus. We hope they will also see that international learning can be a permanent and evolving part of their lives.
As parents, you can help by continuing to offer patience, love and support as you did throughout your student’s time abroad. You might also wish to consult the following parent’s re-entry guide, which was designed by the School for International Training, which can be found online at http://studyabroad.richmond.edu/?go=SITParentReentryHandbook. We feel the SIT handbook is a good resource from which parents of students returning from any study abroad program can benefit.
In the end, most students readjust quite well with time. Please know that our office, as well as Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), are available to assist your student with the transition back to campus and to the United States. Thank you again for your encouragement and support of study abroad and international education.
"I knew from the beginning of our daughter's time at UR that she would be seeking a study abroad opportunity. I had no idea what a truly enriching experience she would have, and how all of us as a family would get to see life a little differently because of it.
Not only did she really dive into Argentinean culture, but over the semester in the house where she stayed, Kristy was blessed to live with women from all over South America, gaining perspective and personal insight into life far beyond the classroom. She took in real life in so many ways: helping build houses in the slums, fixing meals with housemates, busing everywhere, being part of a local church, etc.
Through the ExSpanish program and flexible design of UR's international programs, Kristy was able to travel and tour many wonderful areas of the country, meeting other international students and making memories of a lifetime. Imagine having lunch in Buenos Aires, Argentina with a new Japanese friend while speaking Spanish! Or hiking Patagonia glaciers with friends from France and the Czech Republic. We watched from afar as she navigated all over — and the world became just a little smaller, even for our 7-year-old son!
It was a treat to be able to visit and get a small taste of this incredible experience. There is nothing like being there to really get a sense of a culture, and I highly recommend it to other parents."
— Mother of Kristen S. (Universidad Torcuato di Tella, Argentina)
“Austen had a great experience in Sweden. He worked pretty hard in his classes, met friends from other cultures, got to know and appreciate the Swedish culture, learned a bit of the language and he was forced to live a whole different way than he does at UR.
We send him back to Richmond a more mature individual and better for this unique experience.”
— Mother of Austen K. (Uppsala University, Sweden)