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### Life After Studying Abroad: Transition from Countries to Cliffs

Scotland, The Netherlands, Italy, Spain, Ecuador, and Greece are among the countries where around 50 students from Point Loma Nazarene University resided and studied last autumn. Now back on PLNU’s campus, these students are navigating their return and adjusting to their new routines.

Joella Wu-Cardona, a third-year computer science student, participated in the CEA CAPA program in Amsterdam last semester. She noted the contrast in class sizes, with some classes accommodating up to 300 students, unlike the smaller classes at PLNU. Wu-Cardona expressed a sense of disconnect from her professors compared to the closer relationships she fosters at PLNU.

In the Experience Scotland program, which included 11 students, Colin Sekerka, a second-year political science major, highlighted the unique practice of professors dining alongside students, enhancing interpersonal connections—a departure from his experience at PLNU.

Natalie Landes, a third-year global business major who also partook in the Experience Scotland program, echoed Sekerka’s sentiment about the professors’ involvement in student life. She emphasized the shift in dynamics upon returning to PLNU, where independence became more pronounced.

Upon their return to campus after an extended absence, students shared diverse perspectives on readjusting. While abroad, they relied heavily on public transportation, making the transition to owning a car again a notable adjustment.

Professor Rob Gailey, who led modules in the Experience Scotland program, faced a different teaching environment in Scotland, necessitating adaptability. The shift back to teaching at PLNU posed similar challenges, especially with varying class sizes impacting the course structures significantly.

Reintegrating into campus life presented hurdles for some students, such as Sekerka, who found previous on-campus job opportunities no longer available, prompting a search for new employment. Similarly, Wu-Cardona faced obstacles in returning to her on-campus job.

Libby Storm, a fourth-year graphic design major and study abroad ambassador, reflected on her experiences in multiple countries during the summer 2022 Euro-Term. She shared her strategies for acclimating to different cultures, emphasizing the importance of maintaining connections with loved ones.

Brian Becker, the director of International Ministries and Study Abroad, introduced the concept of “returnability,” urging students to reconnect with their values and cherished activities post-study abroad. This process, though challenging, can foster personal growth and transformation.

All three students described their time abroad as profoundly impactful, broadening their perspectives and understanding of the world. Sekerka emphasized the significance of cultural immersion in fostering empathy and unity.

Becker advised students struggling with reintegration post-study abroad to seek support from the Wellness Center, the Study Abroad Office, and their trusted community, recognizing the importance of mental well-being during this transition.