Reverse Culture Shock
By 2015-05-18 Moja, Go Abroad China
Imagine that you are returning home from taking a study abroad program, you are excited about sharing your experiences and everything else that’s changed about you, you are eager to re-connect with old friends and family and have a big reunion upon your arrival.
However as you try to settle in with the rhythm of your own home country, something just feels…off. We have all heard about culture shock when arriving at a new place, what about “reverse culture shock”
Reverse culture shock is a relatively new idea coined by well-travelled individuals and it explains the mixed emotions that one feels when returning home. These feelings arise when you realize that everything and everyone you come back to hasn’t changed and you find yourself questioning the very same things that you left behind.
Common problems you definitely need to adjust to fall in the areas of:
Perhaps you had visited a non-English speaking country and coming back home, you find yourself having to adjust to speaking Standard English; you might struggle to readily tell jokes like you used to, or getting having to learn new ways of speaking that your friends may have started to adopt while you were away.
It is common for a returnee to have altered food tastes; you might come back more health conscious and more willing to prepare your own food, or simply that you have a better acquired taste for certain foods like being drawn to spicy food. You can easily adjust to this by scouting more food options in your town that you may have previously overlooked, be sure to invite a friend or family member to join, this way it will be more fun.
- Living/Personal Habits
Suddenly you might become intolerable to such tendencies as wastefulness, idleness; you might have a raised awareness of things that are happening around you and even be particularly sensitive to maybe the negative things happening in your own community. This can actually become a difficult situation to face as you become more critical of your friends/family’s lifestyle, the best solution is trying to be less judgmental and think of things as being simply different other than in terms of what’s bad or good. Striking a balance and finding a compromise is key.
- Reconnecting with friends and family
Upon your return, you will have an initial celebratory period where your friends are all happy to be with you. However, as most habitual travellers will admit, this phase does not last long as people start getting on with their normal routines. The realization that maybe your relationships have changed, that you have now look at things from a different perspective and even matured while they have largely continued with their old ways is the most startling. After a while, your friends will become quite frustrated if the only topic becomes your overseas experience. Again, to mitigate this, you will have to conclude upon your own balance and how your relationships will continue to shift in order to lessen the frustration between everyone involved. Even though losing some friends will be a harsh reality to face, but in the process, you might just gain a few more friends who actually share your sentiments.
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