Saint Michael’s Students Going and Coming Back from Abroad
Saint Michael’s College is a small liberal arts school in a small town, in a small state in the United States. Over a third of Saint Michael’s students spend either a semester or year studying abroad in over 100 programs and countries across the globe. Although SMC doesn’t have a partner school abroad they do have a study abroad director to help figure out the right program to fit a student’s needs. Studying in a different country for an extended amount of time can really change one’s perspective and can have an influence on students return to their college campus.
Daniela Czark, a senior now at SMC spent her junior spring in Cape Town, South Africa. Although she had an amazing time studying abroad, she had an adjustment coming back to the Saint Michael’s campus. “SMC seems so small to me now! It was hard to readjust, I feel like I barely know anyone around campus!” Czarck expressed on Twitter. Coming back to the States after being away for so long, students can become used to the customs, culture, and weather. Czark also added, “I miss the weather in South Africa!”
When starting your abroad experience there is some sort of shock when living in a different country than your own, and after time one might become used to the country’s culture and customs. A very obvious example of when a student is abroad is how become aware of their culture versus others…especially the American culture and how we are perceived as being “loud,” fast-paced, and for the most part very friendly.
Claire Martin, a senior now at SMC spent her fall semester of her junior year in Galway, Ireland. “The biggest thing that I noticed when I was abroad was how accepting and inclusive the people in other countries were to us Americans. They were so welcoming and interested in getting to know us and even become friends with us,” Martin explained in a Facebook message. “It made me sad to think how as a whole, our campus, and even our country is not very accepting of foreign students visiting and studying in our country,” continued Martin.
When abroad one can really realize what their school back home offers and how different other schools and regions of the world operate. Morgan Rogers spent her junior fall semester abroad in London, England. She noticed and became grateful of the small community SMC offers. “I realized SMC is a community, a community that is rare to find elsewhere. We are close knit, nice and generally accommodating towards one another. I studied abroad through Boston University, and students are just not the same. I realize every school is different, but SMC is far more community oriented than anything I have ever experienced,” Rogers noted over Facebook.
The schedule aside can become hard to adjust to, for example taking a nap in the middle of the day as Spain does or other relaxed countries in Europe. “After a fairly laid back and leisurely schedule (aside from much traveling) during my time in Ireland, I found adjusting back to the U.S. time schedule quite difficult. In Europe and in Ireland especially, everyone has a very carefree attitude about life and time,” Martin added.
Of course returning to the U.S. after abroad, you can really run into some ‘culture shock,’ and find it hard to get back into the swing of things, but after a while your normal customs become familiar again. Rogers mentioned, “Adjusting back to the schoolwork was the hardest part! Menial things that were happening here did not seem important to me when I was away. I felt more focused on the big picture, and worldview of things.” So all in all, whether your going or coming back from being abroad it is safe to say that you will mostly likely stumble upon some sort of ‘culture shock.’