As students return from study abroad programs, many expect immediate improvements in language skills and cultural awareness. Yet complexities may arise beyond what students may foresee from such experiences. Hofstede’s (1980) concept of uncertainty avoidance and psychological factors of reappraisal, suppression, and emotional regulation all profoundly influence returning students’ cognitive behaviors. This paper analyzes video interviews with program participants and how they viewed their experiences. The students not only spoke of language gains but also on how the program enabled reflection on their misperceptions and shortcomings, and how the experience could serve as a platform for future personal development.