Are you facing “reverse culture shock?” Any returned expat — myself included — can attest to the difficulty of readjusting after a long stint abroad. Here are a few key ways to deal with reverse culture shock.
Feel what you feel. This is the best advice I ever received. When you first get back, things like too many cereal options or road etiquette might drive you to tears. Stop trying to suffocate your emotions! You might think you’re “supposed” to be feeling something else, but accepting your emotions will make the transition process easier.
Talk to humans. It might seem like everyone you knew has either changed completely or hasn’t changed at all. Maybe you’ve changed a lot, and you don’t know how to relate anymore. The hot topics in your home culture might seem shallow or irrelevant or just very foreign to you. How do you deal with interaction when you’re not sure how to connect? The best way to start is to go talk to some real people. Get off social media and go meet up with friends. I didn’t want to talk to anyone when I first arrived back in the States, but the more social I was, the easier the transition became.Stop expecting people to get it. Because they never will. - How to Deal With Reverse Culture Shock Click To Tweet
Stop expecting people to “get it”. Because they never will. Can you really expect them to? I used to get very hurt when peoples’ eyes glazed over as I talked things that I had witnessed overseas or the process of readjusting. It used to really bug me when a friend would interrupt a very personal account about my life abroad to launch into a random family vacation story, like we had something in common. At some point, though, I realized that it wasn’t fair to them or myself to get angry about it. I had to realize that my experience was very unconventional. If I needed to talk, it was best to call a fellow expat who could understand.
These are just a few ways to deal with returning home. Have you ever had to deal with reverse culture shock? What did you learn? Offer your advice in the comments!
About the author:
Breana Johnson spent her expat years in the Caribbean. Currently, she lives in Michigan, where she is a writer, ESL teacher, and graduate student. In the future, she hopes to have another chance to buy a one-way ticket abroad.
*Photos do not belong to Wellington World Travels or the author – they were found online and are free to use under Creative Commons
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