5 Tips to Overcome Reverse Culture Shock

If you’re reading this, you may have just returned from an amazing study abroad experience (or maybe you’re mentally preparing to return home). During your time abroad, you probably had moments where you felt really homesick. Understandably, at first you’ll be so excited to return home; seeing your beloved friends and family again, eating all your favorite foods, sleeping in your own bed, and finally having access to all your clothes again.

However, this initial excitement will eventually wear off, and that’s when you find yourself feeling sort of like a foreigner in your own country. You may start to come across some unexpected challenges in your day to day life such as:

  • Boredom/ frustration
  • Feeling like no one wants to listen
  • You struggle answering “So, how was it?”
  • Changing relationships
  • Feelings of alienation
  • Homesickness for your host country
  • Not knowing how to blend both cultures

This is what Reverse Culture Shock feels like, and yes it’s very real. Right now you’re experiencing the hardest part, but the good news is that is gets easier! In fact, here are some tips to ease your transition back into your home country.

Take the time to reflect on your experience abroad, just don’t get lost in the past. This is a great memory of my friends and I in Nyhavn, Denmark.

DO talk about it, but be prepared if your friends and family can’t relate.

You just returned from a life-changing experience and you’re full of excitement and fun stories that you can’t wait to tell your friends. They care about you and want to know about your travels abroad, but they won’t understand the impact and the meaning behind your stories.  They weren’t there. You’ll dread hearing “How was it?” because how can you sum up all the delicious food you ate, countries you visited, friendships you made, and experiences you had in a few words?!

People expect a concise answer; any longer and they usually lose interest. It’s best to pick one or two great experiences or stories to have prepared when people ask about your time abroad.

The Little Mermaid Statue in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Find an outlet to share your experience.

Start a personal blog, make a Youtube video, write articles, share a review on Goabroad.com – find new ways to satisfy that hunger to share stories with people who are ready to listen.

Your documented experience may provide valuable advice to those who want to study abroad in the future.

 Keep in touch with your friends from abroad and those who’ve studied abroad before

We live in a world now where it’s easier to stay connected than ever before, no matter the distance. Start a group chat on WhatsApp or Snapchat, schedule Skype dates, and keep in touch on Facebook. Be prepared for the possibility that you may drift apart over time (which is completely natural), but your shared experience abroad is something you all will continue to cherish.

I got to eat the most delicious kielbasa and sauerkraut in Krakow, Poland

Get out of the house.

You may feel unmotivated and overwhelmed with a longing to adventure in another country. While staying in bed and binge watching Friends on Netflix probably sounds really appealing, don’t lock yourself away at home. Catch up with friends. Re-familiarize yourself with your hometown. You just came back from a period of exploration in a foreign country: channel that spirit and take time to explore new parts of your town or city that you haven’t seen before. Try out a new hobby or make a plan to visit your new study abroad friends in different states!

Become a hybrid of the best of both cultures.

You’re back in the same place you’ve always lived and yet, it seems like you see it through a whole new lens. It’s not the same town you left, the people around you lived lives while you were away, they’ve changed, and YOU’VE changed. However, this doesn’t mean you should give up those newfound changes you made while you were abroad just to feel “normal” again. Find a way to blend your host country’s culture and your American culture, wear the clothes you bought while abroad, eat the foods you loved, make friends with international students. You don’t have to pick between one culture or the other, you are both and that’s what makes you great.

One of my favorite moments from my time abroad – overlooking the city of Barcelona from Bunkers del Carmel.

Amanda P. is the Fall 2017 MOJO Blogger and international intern in Seville, Spain. She is currently a Senior studying Global Studies & Communications at University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee.

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