Hopefully the semester or internship from which you've just returned was a rewarding and challenging one. But here's the kicker: for that experience to bear real fruit personally and professionally, you need to put some work in NOW.
Often students don't realize the full impact of their time abroad until they return home. Sometimes re-entry into the good old U.S. of A. with its exceptionalism, corporate culture and materialism can be tough. Sometimes the depth of things studied or experienced abroad just requires time and processing. Reverse culture shock can be just as intense, all the more so for being rather surprising.
No matter how long you spend abroad, the experience will change you, as life has changed for your family and friends while you were abroad. Not being able to share everything and be understood by the folks you love and who love you can be hard. Be patient with yourself. Be patient with your friends. Don't give up!
So what can you do?
Here are some resources to help:
Know the signs:
Re-entry stress manifests (like culture shock) in many ways. Here are a few examples:
Looks a lot like culture stress going the other way. Don't be daunted! Feeling this way is natural. The initial euphoria of returning home (to what's familiar) is just getting a reality check: you've changed. You see, understand and interpret differently. The question is what to do with what and how you feel.
Here are some resources:
Intervarsity has some really helpful terminology. They identify 3 patterns of behavior:
How to do this? Read over the Growthful re-entry section on Intervarsity's site. Even though they're talking about re-entry after short-term missions trips, their re-entry recommendations are exceptionally practical and relevant.
Aside from the emotional vagaries of re-entry, you want to think about making the most of your semester academically and professionally.