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Sometimes the best preparation for returning home is by hearing about other students' experiences. Below is a compilation of some of the feedback Deakin International has received from students on their personal thoughts and experiences on leaving Australia and returning to their home country. (In the interest of privacy, we have withheld the identities of the students involved.)
Bachelor of Commerce student, Pakistan
I was a commerce undergraduate student. Leaving Australia was a very emotional experience. Saying goodbye, packing my stuff, sending my luggage back home, last-minute shopping...I simply wanted to buy as much as I could and take all possible reminders of Australia with me.
Arriving home was initially a very warm and safe feeling and sleeping in my old room after such a long time was simply blissful. Nothing could prepare me for what awaited me the next morning.
I simply had no idea how to behave with my immediate family. I felt very suffocated and trapped. Living at home again, losing my independence was very scary. Suddenly I realized how much I had actually gotten used to Australia and the Australian way of life.
From my experience I would advise students to consider the following:
Australia is a very free, democratic, and independent society which respects personal space and encourages voicing of one's own views, values and thoughts. Your home country's culture may be very different. You may find it hard to deal with the mentality back home, especially with issues like women's rights, child labour, labour rights, lawlessness, civil rights, pollution, morality, gender sensitivities, and racism. Be mentally prepared for cultural differences.
Remember, all long journeys begin with a few small steps. Take it slowly and be patient.
Most of all, if you want to be happy, be good to your mother!!! Seriously, be patient and try to listen and observe before reacting and communicating with everyone you socialise with.
Try to communicate with your family and friends the changes you have gone through, the experiences you have had with others.
Take your time to communicate with friends and family. It takes some time for them to take it all in, as well as for you to digest all the things you have encountered there, and to complete your transition to life back home.
Find your own way to set up a stage for communicating your travels. Different ways might be story-telling, a slide or video night, cooking some food from the country you travelled to, finding movies about the cities/countries you have been to.
After a few weeks, try to review your social environment. Take time for yourself. Speak about it with close friends, write a diary.
Try to find out what you would like to change in your relationships with others according to your experience. It could mean negotiating with your friends and family socially. It's a good opportunity to say no and to avoid falling back to your old habits and patterns.
In general the overseas experience forced me to leave my comfort zone, and now that I'm back I have a great opportunity to keep this going. I have tried to deal with returning home the same as I did on going to Australia: by treating it as a new environment and acting like a curious explorer. You will be surprised at how different familiar surroundings can be!
Returning home's a great opportunity to break old habits like being a couch potato and do stuff like getting out there and doing sports, going out with friends, cooking dinner for family and friends, improving your diet and lifestyle, being really interested in what people around you are doing.
Sri Lankan student
It's is a real time of transition and, while going back to your old ways is tempting because it's easy, being back home is a window of opportunity for change that you have made for yourself and you can take it.
I needed to share my experiences with people I felt had a real interest in where I had been, what my experiences were and what I had learnt. I felt getting involved with groups of students that had returned from overseas, alumni groups and being involved with helping international students get used to their new surroundings at my home institution really helped my transition back to my home institution and local community.