Back home

This section provides some useful tips and advice on settling in and finding a job back home.

Family wheeling luggage out of airport

Resettling back home

For some international students, going home after completing a degree in Australia (or any other country) can be a challenging experience. Here you can access information on making the transition easier.

Culture shock all over again

For some international students, going home can be unexpectedly challenging. You may have been away from home for some time (even if you have made the occasional holiday visit). You will have changed quite a lot – in fact, it would not be much use to you if you came to Australia for a university education and you did not change a great deal. Graduates are sometimes a little surprised to discover just how different they have become by the end of their degree. And your home also might have changed more than you expect.

So, it’s reasonable to expect something like the culture shock you may have experienced when you first came to Australia. There can be an initial exciting period as you rediscover your own home and make contact with family and old friends. But there can also be a period when you may feel a bit disappointed or confused. A common saying is that “it’s not like it used to be” or “sometimes I feel like I don’t fit in any more”.

At the same time, you will probably be starting your career in your home country. Learning how to adjust to the expectations of your employer and work colleagues is a mini culture shock in itself.

Later, you will readjust to the way things are done at home and you will be able to apply your experience of living in a different country and a different culture. Your skills and experiences in Australia are potentially very valuable to your employer, your country and to yourself. It can just take a little while for the investment to start paying.

There is no “formula” for how to achieve this adjustment. Different people readjust in different ways, and take different periods of time to do it. Some people will experience no worries at all, while some others may find it all to be quite difficult. The best approach is to give some thought to how the factors involved in readjustment might affect you in order to prepare yourself mentally and emotionally.

A lot may have changed

You have changed

  • You may be more independent and self-reliant – and this might mean you behave differently around people (such as your parents) who remember you as you were at an earlier time in your life.
  • You may have acquired different views or values – it’s possible that you will have different attitudes that may surprise or even shock some of the people that you mix with.
  • You need to be aware of cultural and political differences – some students get used to the way things are done in Australia, and forget that things can be very different elsewhere.
  • You have acquired new skills and knowledge – obviously, if you have obtained a university degree, you will be able to do things that you could not do previously. And you may have gained a lot of other skills on the way from part-time jobs, sharing accommodation and meeting different people.

Home has changed

  • Friends might have “moved on” – people you knew well may have found new friends or new interests. It might not be easy to just pick up old friendships. For some people, returning home becomes a time when you must build new friendships and support networks.
  • Your family may be different to what they were like before – younger brothers or sisters are older, and they may have become used to you not being there. Parents may have changed jobs, retired or whatever. Maybe some individuals have moved out, or the family lives in a different place. Perhaps one or more people you were close to have passed away, and the family therefore no longer has all of the same people there. Families do not stay frozen in time while you are away.
  • There may be other changes such as a different government; new laws; changes to buildings and roads, etc. Expect to get lost a couple of times as you try driving around new road works. Make an effort to find out if there are new laws that could affect you.

Loss of status

  • As an international student in Australia you were considered unique. In Australia, lots of people are interested in hearing about you and your country. At home, you can suddenly turn back into just an ordinary person again. You may miss this uniqueness when you return home.
  • However, your study experience has also been very unique and you can now share what you have learned academically and socially, with others.

Coping techniques

  • Use the coping strategies you developed here to settle back home. If you can survive being here for several years, you can certainly survive going home again!
  • Maintain networks with university friends and alumni – it’s helpful to stay in touch over the coming years. People often say that the best friends they ever made were their university friends. Don’t lose contact with them, and don’t lose contact with Curtin.
  • Realise that the period of readjustment is normal and useful – there is nothing “wrong” with you if you have a few tough times. (Likewise, there is nothing “wrong” with you if you find the whole process really easy. Many people do go back home and fit in without any real difficulty).
  • Set goals to begin focusing positively on your future rather than feeling sadness about leaving what you have enjoyed here. Write down your goals for the next few weeks so you have a clear idea about what you are aiming to achieve.
  • Begin to visualise your return: packing, saying goodbye, being at the airport, reunion with friends/family.
  • Remember: Be patient with yourself and others. It can take time and effort to readjust.

Still feeling unsure?

If you want to discuss any concerns or issues that you may have to confront on returning home, you’re very welcome to:

Businessman pointing to a whiteboard in meeting

Finding employment

Students from all over the world come to Curtin to increase their chances of securing employment or moving up the corporate ladder. This section provides advice on planning your career for when you return home.

Your time at university gives you the opportunity to consider:

  • Employment opportunities in your home country
  • How to use the resources available to you in Australia and in your home country
  • What employers will be looking for when employing graduates
  • How to prepare yourself for readjusting to working life
  • Writing a professional cover letter and resume that reflects your capabilities
  • How to develop skills for a job interview that make you stand out from other applicants.

While you are still on campus you can visit Curtin Connect in Building 102 for all your career related needs. Career services include career workshops, one-on-one counselling and networking and employer events during the semesters.

For more information for recent graduates, see our career advice.