Everybody talks about culture shock, but only a few are aware of the gravity of reverse culture shock for returned expats or travelers from long travel. That’s why I have asked Breana to share her experience on how she dealt with reverse culture shock. Hope this will shed some enlightenment.
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 about 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!
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. Check out another post she has written here: 5 Reasons to Visit Kenya.
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26 thoughts on “How to Deal With Reverse Culture Shock”
well this is a subject I truly know little about. It does sound like you shared a lot of great information and tips for those that are going through this.
We haven’t experienced long-term trips yet, but I do clearly understand “reverse culture shock.” In fact, after returning home from every backpacking trip, mountain trek, scuba diving adventure, etc., we feel that there is something different. Like—the world is out there, not here. But we do get excited about telling people about our adventures. Thankfully, the people who we talk to usually “get it.”
These seem like great tips for those going through this. Personally I’ve never lived abroad or in another province even so if I ever do I’ll remember these for sure. Seems like a common experience from those I’ve heard return home.
Interacting can definitely help get through the phase and as you’ve mentioned, being social surely helps with the adjustment. Good advice. Thanks for sharing the post.
I remember experiencing reverse culture shock after being abroad for 8 months. It was the weirdest weirdest experience. The suggestions are good though and they will work.
Thanks for this post! I’ve only been abroad for six months, but it’s something I’ve been thinking about for the future. I already love living outside the US, I can’t imagine wanting to go home!
This so resonated with me. I was out of my home country for 17 years and it felt really weird to return. I only lasted 18 months lol before heading abroad again. I guess it’s the expat life for me!
That’s the thing! 8 years out of the country and I also feel weird going home. I am also afraid by the time we go back to the USA, I might not feel at home or feel ‘settled’.
Oh boy, don’t get me started but having said that, knowing what I know now, and as much I travel, I can easily handle any cultural shock… well almost any. Do love the tips you have shared, and going to include them in my mindset as well.
I know what you mean. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
This is good information to have. We are in the process of trying to become expats. I have read a lot about adjusting when you get there but this is the first time i’ve Read about coming back.
Wow! Where to? Good luck. In my 8 years of being an expat, it’s not anymore about culture shock. It’s all about reverse culture shock. I don’t know if I’ll ever fit or feel at home in the US or in the Philippines.
I’ve dealt with reverse culture shock. The trick is to ease back into daily life slowly. I tried not to talk too much, as it was overwhelming to hear so much English being spoken. Add to that the fact that we as American talk very, very loudly. It gave me such a headache at first. So I limited my social gatherings at first and slowly reintegrated myself. I also didn’t talk too much about my abroad experiences because I knew that not everyone would be able to relate. I also didn’t want it to appear as if I was talking over the heads of others.
The first time I went home, I was so excited to tell all my adventures to my friends. Sad to say, they didn’t have that same level of enthusiasm and they don’t ‘get it’. I looked like someone who was bragging – which I am not. I was just happy and ecstatic to share my stories. Interacting can be a challenge.
I’ve really never thought about the emotional toll of returning from a long stint abroad (I’ve not gone away for more than a vacation- I need to change that) but it’s a really great topic to write on. Thank you for bringing this advice to the attention of those that may not have thought about it before!
Thank you, Meg. Appreciate the kind words. I have been an expat for 8 years, and ‘feeling at home’ and interacting with friends can be a challenge.
These are actually good advice Breana. I know someone who moves out completely because of reverse culture shock. I will share with her this article.
It’s real. I hope he/she may found his/her “place” again.
The biggest thing I found to re-adjusting to life after travelling, was getting used to the stress of the big city again. I live in London and the commute can be so stressful!
I feel the same way (but the other way around). I came from a rural place, and it’s hard adjusting to that life when I have been used to living in a big city for 8 years.
It’s not easy to deal with reverse culture shock!
Thanks for sharing!
Glad you find it helpful.
All your advices are on point !! So true !
Thank you, Ana.
These are very good advices! Thanks for sharing!
Appreciate the kind words.