I can’t say enough about how happy I am that I got to study abroad. I had never lived abroad for a long time before I went to Scotland to start my degree. I knew I would have to get used to a very different way of learning and figure out how to live in a new place.
What I didn’t expect, though, was that it could be just as hard when you got back home.
After you’ve traveled, met a lot of new people, and done a lot of new things, it can be hard to get used to how things are back home. Reverse culture shock is the feeling of having to deal with the sudden change in pace now that the adventure is over.
Reverse culture shock can make you feel anxious, especially if you feel like your time abroad has changed you but your family and friends expect you to be the same person you were before you left. It can also make you feel bad because you expect to be happy to be back, but instead you might feel strange and alone.
Different things happened to me when I went back to my home country. I found it easy to get used to the way of life in a different country, but when I got back home, I felt like a stranger in my own country.
My biggest problem was that I thought home was perfect and that my friends and family were only interested in hearing about my time abroad. It was hard for me to see that even though I was independent when I was abroad, I had to give up some of that independence when I went home and moved back in with my parents.
Also, when you travel abroad, your friends probably have different kinds of changes happen in their lives. It may be hard to accept that your lives aren’t the same as they used to be, but there’s nothing wrong with that.
Elspeth Beard was the first British woman to ride a motorcycle around the world. In her book The Lone Rider, she writes beautifully about being sad and feeling like she doesn’t belong. She talks about how she felt lost in her life after a two-year trip around the world and how disappointed she was that her family didn’t care about her travels. Beard also talked about how far away she felt from the lives of her friends and how hard it was to find things they still had in common.
Even though I wasn’t gone as long as Beard, I can relate to a lot of what she wrote. A lot of the time, I felt alone and sad because my family would rather go about their day than listen to me talk. I learned from her book that it’s normal to feel this way and find it hard to fit in after being away for a long time.
Here are some ways to deal with reverse culture shock and make coming home from a long time away less stressful.
Embrace your experience
Don’t be afraid to talk about how your time abroad changed you and what you learned. Your friends will be glad to hear about it, and you might even inspire someone else to go abroad, too. You should all be fine as long as you don’t talk about yourself for hours on end.
If you want to tell more people about your trip, you can talk about it at your university or school to encourage others to go. You can also write about it in a school newspaper or on a blog.
Spend time with each other.
Even though it can be hard to understand, your friends and family lived their own lives while you were away. You’ll want to tell them everything about your trip, but don’t forget to listen to their stories and problems, too.
Spending more time with family and friends will help you feel at home again. It will also help if you have the blues after studying abroad.
Coming back to your own country after living abroad for a long time is a rare chance to see it with new eyes and appreciate it. Things you didn’t notice or think about before may seem interesting or strange all of a sudden.
When I was in Scotland, I loved how friendly and open everyone was. When I first went back to my home country of Poland, I thought the people there were cold and shy. After thinking about it for a while, I realized that we are friendly, but it takes us longer to trust a new person. I think both ways have their good points, and I like being able to use the best parts of each.
Some parts of reverse culture shock will almost certainly affect you when you come back from your time abroad, but remember that it’s coming home that makes the adventure you had worth having.