You will no doubt have heard of a culture shock, i.e. a feeling of ‘what the hell …’ when you arrive somewhere and it is totally different and new, and you might feel like you’re struggling to fit in. Well, if you’ve experienced a culture shock, you will know that it passes after a short amount of time.
So, what is a reverse culture shock?
Well, keeping on the same lines, a reverse culture shock is what someone who has been living, studying, working, or travelling abroad may feel when they return back to their home town. This is another transitional period, something which does pass, but at the time it can be quite unpleasant.
The symptoms of a reverse culture shock can be a little uncomfortable for the time they are present, but they will disappear as you adjust. You may feel like you don’t belong at home anymore, that you have no links to your hometown now you’ve been somewhere else, you might have trouble sleeping, you may lose your appetite, and you may just feel downright lonely. This is totally normal, and the good news is that there are plenty of ways to deal with it, until the feelings pass and you begin to feel normal and settled again.
Stay in touch
If you met people when you were travelling or living overseas, make sure you stay in touch with them regularly, because this will help you stay connected to the place you spent so much time in. Reverse culture shock is an adjustment, but that doesn’t mean that you have to put a lid on the time you spent overseas; it is a part of your life, a chapter, and one that doesn’t have to be closed.
Remember those who were there before
Your old friends will be excited to see you back, and it’s important to jump back into your social circle as soon as possible. Laughing and having fun with old friends is a sure-fire way to feel better, and before you know it you’ll be happier as a result.
Recapture your memories
To keep your memories as they should be, and not through rose-tinted glasses, why not make a scrapbook or arrange your photos into an order you can look back at again and again? Reliving memories will make you smile, and whilst at first you might feel sad that you’re not there anymore, laughing at the good times will help you re-adjust.
Don’t lock yourself away
It may be your instinct to hide under the covers and mope when you return home, but your family and friends won’t understand this reaction, which may cause more problems. Instead, force yourself out and throw yourself into the here and now. Look at your hometown through new eyes again, focus on the beauty of it, and see the positives. Re-discovering somewhere old can be just as much fun as discovering somewhere new for the first time.
Finally, it’s important to remember that you’ve done something amazing and that it took bravery and guts, so keep on going! Make plans, save up, give yourself an aim and work towards it. Travel doesn’t end because you’ve gone home for a while, it’s simply a pit-stop on the way to somewhere else.