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Returning Home

We know that leaving can be hard. Here you will find some advice to help prepare you for returning home.
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A view of the Castle and Cathedral from Durham Train Station

Leaving Durham

Studying abroad is a formative experience for most students, a time full of adventure, reflection, discovery and change. When your time in Durham comes to a close and the prospect of returning home may feel equally exciting but maybe also a bit sad or possibly daunting. Give yourself time to readjust and savour the (re-)discovery of your own country and culture. We hope you will have enjoyed your time in Durham and will have created lasting memories and friendships!

This page gives some advice on:

  • transcript of records
  • how you can support us and future students run more sustainable exchanges by participating in the Big Green Moveout
  • what to expect when you return home and how to cope with 'reverse culture shock'

Transcript of Records

A Transcript of Records is the official document that certifies the modules you have undertaken at Durham and the grades you have achieved. This will be sent to your personal e-mail address. Transcripts are not produced until the summer. Students who are here for only part of the academic year will receive a Transcript Appendix to accompany the official Transcript of Records. The Transcript Appendix will reflect the actual grades you have received and this will be e-mailed to you with the Transcript of Records.  For students here for Michaelmas Term only this will be sent to you in February/March and for Business postgraduate students it will be sent to you in April..


Green Move Out volunteers

Green Move Out

Donate what you don’t want to take home, so that others can reuse them!

Green Move Out

Reverse Culture Shock

Going on a year abroad has ups and downs and the same applies to returning home afterwards. Things will be different; indeed, you will be different! It is not unusual to miss the friends that you have made in Durham. Likewise, some students find that on return home things and relationships that were once familiar seem different, challenging or disappointing. It is thus not unusual to find that you have to re-re-adjust in order to get used to life back at home. This process is often called ‘reverse culture shock’.

How might I be affected?

Everyone is different, but things that you experience may include:

  • Boredom and restlessness – the move from everything abroad being a new adventure, to settling into daily life back at home which may seem dull.
  • Alienation and frustration – such as the struggling to explain certain things jokes or customs that ‘only Brits would understand’.
  • Feeling a lack of interest from family and friends – after all, you have had all of these amazing adventures and yet their lives have gone on too.
  • Sense of loss – you never know, you may miss the British weather or sense of humour.
  • Reality – you may have missed home when being abroad, but on return the things you missed seem less important than the things you miss from Durham.

The stages of reverse culture shock

There are various stages of culture shock before, during and after your move back home:

  • Disengagement – this may happen before you leave. It may include a feeling of uncertainty knowing that the clock is ticking as your time in Durham will come to an end, even though you don’t want it to.
  • Goodbye! – At some point you will need to start to say farewell to new friends. This can lead to feeling sad and a reluctance to leave.
  • Euphoria - you may start to feel excited about returning home. Getting home you are able to see old friends and family, who are equally happy to see you.
  • Feeling down - it may be that others appear to be less interested as you thought they would be about your stories from Durham.  You may experience feelings of alienation, loneliness, disorientation, depression and feeling like a stranger.
  • Readjustment - gradually you may start to feel more normal and get back into old routines.  
  • Adaptation – this is the stage where you realise that you will never be the person that you were over a year ago, but the new you is able to combine both the positives from your year abroad with the positives from your life at home.

Tips for managing reverse culture shock

In order to help your transition, there are a number of things you can do and think about:

  1. Accept yourself and embrace that you are a different person after studying abroad

A good initial step to is to realise that everyone who has taken a year abroad will have changed. You will have seen and experienced things that have altered your worldview. Be prepared that your friends and family may also have to get used to the new you and that you may not be able to fully articulate your changed thoughts. So be kind to yourself and each other and take the time to reflect on what you have learned about yourself while abroad.

  1. Keep connected

These days it is easy to connect with people in just a few simple clicks. But remember: you still have to actually do it! If you are missing the friends from your year abroad, then call them or drop them a line. Don’t hide away or think ‘it’s their turn to get in contact’. The truth of the matter is that they probably miss you too. Don’t be shy or embarrassed if it has been a while since you last got in contact. We all lead busy lives, and it is likely they will be happy you reached out.

Keep connected to your friends at home while also making new friends. Sometimes to feel less “foreign” in your own country you can meet up with others who have gone through similar experiences. Often there are study abroad alumni meet ups or student societies where you can connect with new people who also understand what you’re going through.

Eventually you will need to come to terms with the fact that your year abroad was transient, and you cannot be best friends with everyone all of the time. Inevitably you will lose contact with some of the people that you have met. The flip side is that new people will also come into your life. Embrace that those people you lose contact with still contributed to who you are and the memories that you have… which leads us on to…

  1. Keep your memories alive

Talking about your experiences will only last so long. Memories do fade so before you leave you why not get all of your friends to write a short paragraph about their favourite memory you had together? When you are back home, make a scrap book / or print a photo album. While you may not need it now to remember your year abroad, in years to come you can look at these things and keep the memory alive.

  1. Give back

Your experiences can help and inspire others.

  • Going abroad: most universities’ international offices run study abroad fairs and events and would welcome you as an ambassador for their programmes. You may be able to offer your services as a peer mentor, meeting with students thinking about going abroad, giving them valuable insight and pointing them in the right direction.
  • Coming to your home university: just as Durham has the ESN Society to support incoming international students, your university may have some similar groups, where you can help give international students coming to your home university a great welcome.
  1. A home away from home

Okay, so standing under a cold shower to recreate the British weather is not everyone’s idea of fun, but there are other things you can do to carve out a little bit of Britain at home. For example, if you miss the food, why not organise a dinner party to teach others that it is not just baked beans here? 

  1. Start your next adventure!

As one experience ends, you can always start your next one. It doesn’t have to be abroad.  Keep the explorer’s mindset that took you to Durham and don’t forget that your home country is full of amazing places you haven’t yet visited. What about that gallery you have walked past a thousand times? What about jumping on a bus to the wildness and seeing where it takes you?! Likewise, think about meeting your friends from Durham on holiday somewhere else in the world.

  1. Come back

Thinking about doing a Masters or a PhD?  Durham would love for you to come back to Study for a Full Degree!

  1. And finally…

If you are struggling, then reach out! Durham has its Counselling Service and the Student Wellbeing Programme. Your home university will have something similar. Having to make an adjustment to being back at home is totally normal, so you are not alone.

Returning Home

We know that leaving can be hard. Here you will find some advice to help prepare you for returning home.
Return to the incoming homepage
A view of the Castle and Cathedral from Durham Train Station