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                                                                                    And the end of all our exploring
                                                                                    Will be to arrive where we started
                                                                                    And know the place for the first time.
                                                                                    (T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets)

Gendered re-entry shock: a case of six CEU students

In this paper, I discuss the nature of re-entry shock or the so-called reverse culture shock. My argument is that re-entry shock is a gendered experience that provides opportunities for a personal growth. Gender is a salient variable in this process because men and women are positioned differently in sending and receiving societies. It is gendered in how men and women perceive it, how they cope with it, how they talk about it.
My discussion is based on six interviews I conducted. I talked with female and male students from the states that were parts of the USSR. These students, as participants of exchange programs, studied in the USA for one academic year.
Culture shock and reverse culture shock are phenomena that are studied since 50s. They are grounded within cross-cultural communication theory that was mostly developeddon't call from the stationary phone in the US.  The term culture shock was first introduced by Oberg, who defined it as “anxiety resulting from not knowing what to do in a new culture” (as cited in Melnichuk, 5, 2004). The term itself is not innocent as the word shock has obvious negative connotations what appears quite confusing for people who are interviewed about it. The students whom I talked to expected me to ask about their negative feelings and emotions they experienced returning home, though culture shock is more than that: negative emotions are only one, though essential, part of  an adjustment. Re-entry shock is not only anxiety, as I understand this phenomenon, it is also a personal development and growth through feelings of disorientation.
Probably life itself, the mobility with which people move around the world provided ground to study re-entry shock. The scholarly attention given to it is often justified by profitability reasoning. Many universities nowadays render such services as orientations and guidelines for coping with anxieties emerging at home to transmit the image that they care about students till the end. Such orientations are not always helpful, but their existence is, certainly, a good sign since it means that culture experiences are taken seriously and considered worthy of scholars’ attention.
 Overall, culture and reentry shock are complicated phenomena with varied symptoms, patterns, and consequences. The patterns of culture shock are affected by demographic, individual, social, and cultural variables. The study of these phenomena has been intense over the fifty years since Oberg first defined culture shock, and the existing body of research and literature offers important and practical insights and findings upon which to base the present work.


   
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