Returning home can be a challenging transition. An extended amount of time away allows you to become accustomed to a new lifestyle. The language and customs of a new country that at one point felt new and uncomfortable become normal. Just as it took time to adjust to that new cultural environment, it will take time to adjust back into your prior life. Follow these tips for reverse culture shock to ease the re-entry experience.
TELL YOUR STORY
It can be hard to keep quiet about your adventures once you return home. You may catch yourself repeatedly saying, “This one time when I was in Spain … ” over and over again. Your stories from abroad are interesting and valuable; it’s just that no one may want to hear every detail about each beach or village that you visited. So channel your stories to people who do want to hear them! Submit stories and articles to online study abroad and travel publications. Also, see if your study abroad office organizes forums for returning students to share stories and experiences with outbound students.
Reach out to different international organizations in your hometown or at your university. Opportunities may be available at your campus’ Study Abroad Office or Multicultural Center. Surrounding yourself with people who are passionate about travel and international education will make your transition home much easier and allow you to build friendships and networks with people who have similar interests.
STAY IN TOUCH
Make an effort to talk to the friends you met abroad, both locals and Americans. Remaining in contact with local friends from abroad will keep your experience alive. Not only will you miss them and want to chat, but keeping in touch is also a good way to continue practicing a newly acquired language and keep up to date on international news. Staying in touch with American friends can be comforting because you all will be experiencing reverse culture shock at the same time. You will be able to relate to one another very well as you all left the same culture to return home to American culture.
ACCEPT YOUR NEW WORLD VIEW
After living abroad for an extended period of time, coming back home can be challenging because you view your own culture differently. Your experiences abroad have changed your outlook of the world. It can be hard to relate to family and friends who have never left their homeland and had the opportunity to reflect on their culture. The ability to see the world from a multicultural perspective is a gift, embrace it!
After experiencing just a glimpse of how life can be different somewhere else, you come to realize how much you don’t know about the world. This can make re-entry hard because now you have the urge to experience it all. The solution? Keep traveling!