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What to Expect: Intellectual

o Do you feel that because of your recent education and experience you can now criticize and judge either the way things are in your home country or the way they are in the U.S.?

o Do you expect that multiple companies will be eager and anxious to hire you when you return home?
 
Many students who have studied in the U.S. offend their friends and family when they return home because they seem to think they now know everything, and everyone should listen to them. Equally as offensive, students might complain about conditions in their home country and constantly compare them to the U.S. or they may speak with a negative attitude about how foolish they found this or that aspect of life in the U.S. These attitudes will not endear you to those you interact with back home. They will soon tire of hearing you complain or brag about how great you had it in the U.S. or how much more you know than they do.

While your education and experiences abroad will provide you with a much broader perspective than you had before leaving home, don’t allow that to make you conceited, critical or judgmental. Take the time and effort to appreciate things unique to your home country and don’t always voice your opinion about things that no longer measure up to your new standards.
Because of your experience in the United States, your entire worldview has likely changed. Think of worldview as the framework of ideas and beliefs through which you interpret the world and interact in it. The term comes from the German word Weltanschauung, which refers to the overall perspective from which one sees and interprets the world. Anytime you move outside of your familiar environment and experience something altogether different, you expand your view of the world. Once you have seen and experienced things that those around you haven’t, it can become increasingly difficult to relate to those who have no concept of that world.

Your world has grown to include many sights, sounds and encounters that the average person in your home country has never experienced. You have witnessed and experienced events that they have never even considered, which naturally affects how you look at and interact with the world around you. Consider yourself fortunate, but take care not to look down on those who haven’t had the same opportunity.

You can use this expanded worldview to great advantage, but don’t allow it to breed arrogance or criticism. Use your broader experience to benefit those around you, creating solutions and instigating improvements because you care about the people and your country—not out of self-importance, snobbery or embarrassment. Multi-cultural experience benefits everyone. The opportunity to see things from another perspective always enriches your life.

A brief story illustrates this point:

One day a rich father took his son on a trip to the country with the purpose of showing him how fortunate he really was. They spent a day and a night on the farm of a very poor family. Having witnessed their poverty first-hand, the father expected his son to come home grateful for the splendor of his privileged life, but when he asked his son what he had learned, he never expected the reply he got. The son answered, "I saw that we have a dog at home, and they have four. We have a pool that reaches to the middle of the garden, but they have a creek that has no end. We have imported lamps in the garden, they have the stars. Our patio reaches to the front yard, they have a whole horizon. We have a small piece of land to live on and they have fields that go beyond our sight. We have servants who serve us, but they serve others. “We buy our food, but they grow theirs. We have walls around our property to protect us, but they have friends to protect them. ” His father looked at him, speechless. Then his son added, “Thanks Dad for showing me how poor we are and putting it all in perspective.”

Instead of focusing on all the poor family didn’t have, the son saw what they made of what they did have and his perspective about his own situation broadened. He didn’t pity them, as his father expected—he admired and respected them. So really, it doesn’t rest on how much richer, better, more enlightened or advanced you have become, but how your heart-level perspective has changed. Use that expanded perspective to make the most of every opportunity.

While you should feel proud of your educational accomplishments and any experience you gained in the U.S., don’t expect every other company back home to want to hire you. The world market has become a very competitive place and many people have a lot to offer. It shouldn’t surprise you if you have to spend months in the job market to find a position. Don’t take it personally and begin to question whether you should have spent the time and money, not to mention the effort to earn a degree internationally—it just reflects the current job market and the many qualified applicants all over the world.