Students readjust after studying abroad

Jill McCarter contributed to this report.

With over 110 study abroad programs offered, Butler University students have plenty of opportunities to step outside of the “Butler Bubble” and the Indianapolis community and experience a different culture.

For some, the readjustment to Butler can be difficult.

Senior Calli Duggins spent the fall semester of her junior year studying abroad in Barcelona, Spain. She said she had some mixed feelings while studying abroad.

“I was very homesick, but I loved seeing a different part of the world,” Duggins said. After a semester, Duggins said she decided to come back home, even though her original plan was to stay a full year.

Senior John Joseph studied at the University of Otago in the town of Dunedin, New Zealand last spring after spending the fall in Washington, D.C. and said he also struggled briefly with the return to Butler.

“It has been hard filling my time,” Joseph said. “When you are abroad, walking around and meeting new people is the best activity you can do.

“At Butler, walking around campus is not nearly as fulfilling.”

“My first semester back at Butler was surreal,” Duggins said. “Things can change so much from one semester to another so that took some getting used to.”

Duggins said the basketball team’s run to the Final Four game provided her with many chances to reconnect with other students.

“The excitement helped me feel like I was part of the greater Butler community,” Duggins said. “All the events during the Final Four were a great way to feel like an American student again.”

Participation in other on-campus events also helped Duggins in the readjustment period, as she said she found herself volunteering and attending speaking engagements on campus.

Duggins said she thinks students who study abroad should not hold back on their involvement upon their return.

“Stay involved with your Butler activities as soon as you get back,” Duggins said. “Some students I have talked to feel disillusioned about campus activities.

“You have realized life exists outside of Butler, now use your experiences to complement your Butler activities.”

Joseph said he would encourage students to relish their moments and to share them with friends.

“While you want everyone to know about your experiences, most people truly do not care,” Joseph said. “You find out who your true friends are by their willingness to ask questions and listen to your answers.”

Sarah Robinson, study abroad adviser, helps students who are interested in studying abroad to find a program that would best fit their interests and course of study.

Robinson also helps students get reacquainted with the Butler community when they return.

Students should stay in touch with the people they met abroad in order to keep the memories of their trip alive, she said.

“Emotionally, it can be really challenging for students to come back, and I think it just takes time,” Robinson said.

Despite the possibility of a difficult transition, Robinson said she fully believes that studying abroad will leave a lasting impression on students and encourages students to consider it.

“There are so many reason to study abroad,” Robinson said.

She said the best reason is the personal growth students experience during their time abroad.

“Students come back with a greater sense of independence and self-confidence,” Robinson said. “They are more outgoing.

“Students come back feeling obviously more culturally aware, but also more aware of who they are themselves, who they are as a person and where they want to go with their lives.”

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