What Is Reverse Culture Shock

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Reverse Culture Shock // Study Abroad // Marquette University

It is just a normal reaction to coming home after spending time studying abroad that is known as reverse culture shock. It is an emotional and psychological stage of re-adjustment, comparable to the period you went through when you first arrived in your new country. If you don’t have an outlet to explore new interests that were ignited while overseas, you may have a variety of symptoms ranging from feeling like no one knows you or how you’ve changed to feeling scared that you may lose part of your identity.

  • Restlessness, rootlessness, boredom, depression, uncertainty, consternation, isolation, a desire to be alone, “reverse homesickness,” and other symptoms.

This process will be comparable to the culture shock you may have experienced when traveling overseas for the first time, only in the other direction. Just as it took time for you to acclimatize to a new culture when you first arrived, it may take time for you to transition back to your home culture.

What Kinds of Challenges Will I Face With Reverse Culture Shock?

There are several reasons to look forward to returning home, but there are also a variety of psychological, social, and cultural problems associated with the process of re-adjusting. These can be particularly difficult to deal with since they are frequently unexpected. Some students who, like you, had to deal with these difficulties and came out on the other side successfully compiled a list of the signs of reverse culture shock.

  1. Boredom Having experienced all of the novelty and stimulation of your time overseas, going home to your family, friends, and old routines (however pleasant and comforting they may be) may be a very dull experience. It’s normal to miss the excitement and difficulties that come with studying in a foreign country, but it’s also up to you to figure out how to deal with these unpleasant feelings when they arise. Attempt to merge your new viewpoint into your old home – seek out cultural outlets that you hadn’t previously explored, take up an unfamiliar sport or pastime, or spend a day pretending you’re a visitor in your own city. No one wants to hear what you have to say. One thing you can bet on when you return home is that no one will be as interested in hearing about your experiences and victories as you will be in sharing them with them. Not that you or your accomplishments are in any way devalued
  2. Rather, it is a reflection of the fact that, after your friends or family have heard the highlights, they will believe they have heard everything. Be succinct in your description of your adventures – it was almost always more entertaining for someone who was present to hear about them. Often, you will discover that those who have been overseas are more able to connect to the types of experiences you have had, and as a result, they will be more enthusiastic (or at the very least willing!) to listen to your stories
  3. You are unable to explain Even if you are given the opportunity to describe all of the sights you saw and emotions you experienced while studying abroad, it will be difficult to do so in a meaningful manner. Trying to describe this type of experience to individuals who do not share the same frames of reference or travel histories as you is extremely challenging, no matter how sympathetic they are as listeners or observers. It is possible that your stories about exotic nations and various cultures will leave your friends or family members without a frame of reference, which will make the narrative seem abstract and hence less engaging than it was for you. Include in your story some element of everyday life that kids are likely to be familiar with, such as eating, school, shopping, and so on. “Reverse homesickness” is a phrase that means “reverse longing for home.” Similarly to how you may have missed home for a period of time after leaving the United States, you are likely to feel a sense of “reverse” homesickness for the people, places, and things that you become accustomed to while a student abroad. You may mitigate this to some extent by writing letters, making phone calls, and generally staying in touch with individuals you meet while traveling. However, feelings of loss are a normal aspect of foreign travel and should be anticipated and acknowledged as a natural outcome of studying abroad. The dynamics of relationships have shifted. The fact that some of your connections with friends and family will have changed when you return is an inevitability while traveling. People back home are sure to have experienced some changes as a result of your travels, just as you have adjusted some of your beliefs and attitudes while overseas. It is impossible to suppose that no changes will have happened, regardless of whether the changes are beneficial or bad. Flexibility, openness, a lack of assumptions, and a healthy dose of optimism are the greatest preparations. The “wrong” modifications are seen by the public. People may get preoccupied with little changes in your conduct or thoughts and appear intimidated or upset as a result of these changes. Others may attribute any “poor” characteristics you possess to the effect of your time spent overseas. These occurrences may be prompted by sentiments of superiority or inferiority, envy, fear, or other negative emotions. It’s important to keep an eye on yourself and be aware of your surroundings in order to avoid or limit negative reactions, especially in the first few weeks following your return. If you don’t do anything to reinforce their prejudices, this phase should pass very fast. Many people are misinformed. A small number of people will misinterpret your words or behaviors in such a manner that communication becomes challenging. Things like sarcasm, banter, and other forms of humor, as well as techniques to express affection or initiate discussion, may not be perceived as wit but as aggressiveness or showboating, depending on your cultural background. Be conscious of how you appear to others and how your actions are likely to be understood by them. Also keep in mind that making frequent allusions to your time spent abroad may come off to others as haughty or even as a rejection of your native culture. Anxiety of being judged and scrutinized Sometimes the reality of returning back “home” is not as natural or pleasurable as the imagined world you had created in your mind before you left. In situations when real everyday life is less fun or more difficult than you recall, it is reasonable to experience a sense of alienation, to recognize flaws in society that you had previously overlooked, and even to become critical of everyone and everything for a period of time. This is no different than when you initially left your native country. It is acceptable to make mental comparisons, but keep them to yourself until you have regained your more balanced cultural viewpoint. Inability to put new information and abilities into practice For many returning citizens, the lack of opportunities to put their newly acquired social, linguistic, and practical coping abilities to use in situations that seem unneeded or irrelevant is a source of frustration. Adapting to reality as required, modifying what is achievable, being creative, being patient, and, above all, utilizing the cross-cultural adjustment skills you gained while overseas to aid you in your own re-entry are all strategies for avoiding persistent aggravation and frustration. You may rest confident that We consider the cross-cultural knowledge you obtained to be a really useful tool in our culture, and there will undoubtedly be possibilities for you to put it to good use. Experience is being lost or compartmentalized. Due to the stress of returning home, as well as the demands of work, family and friends, many returning citizens are concerned about “losing” their experience, which they believe will result in them becoming compartmentalized like souvenirs or photo albums that are only occasionally taken out and looked at. That is not something you have to allow to happen. Keep track of your contacts. Consult with those who have had similar situations to yours. Make use of your abilities. Remember and appreciate all of your hard work, as well as the enjoyment you experienced while traveling

Boredom As exciting and stimulating as your time overseas was, going home to family and friends and old routines (however pleasant and reassuring) might seem a little monotonous after all that has happened. Even though it’s natural to miss the excitement and difficulties that come with studying in a foreign country, it’s also important for you to figure out how to deal with these unpleasant feelings. Attempt to infuse your new viewpoint into your old home – seek out cultural outlets that you hadn’t previously explored, take up an unfamiliar sport or interest, or spend a day pretending that you’re a visitor in your own town.

  1. Not because you or your accomplishments are in any way devalued; rather, it is a reflection of the fact that, after hearing the highlights, your friends or family may feel as though they have heard it all.
  2. Others who have been overseas may be better able to connect to the types of experiences you’ve had, and as a result, they may be more enthusiastic (or at the very least willing!) to listen to your stories.
  3. While it is possible to express all of the sights and emotions you experienced while studying abroad, it is quite difficult to do so in a meaningful manner.
  4. Your stories about visiting various nations and seeing new cultures might leave your friends or family members without a frame of reference, which makes the narrative seem abstract and consequently not as exciting as it was to you.
  5. Reverse homesickness is a term used to describe the feeling of being away from one’s home.
  6. It is possible to alleviate some of this by writing letters to strangers, calling them, and generally staying in touch with the individuals you meet while traveling.
  7. A shift has occurred in the dynamics of relationships.

People at home are sure to have experienced some changes as a result of your travels, just as you have adjusted some of your views and attitudes while away.

Flexibility, openness, a lack of assumptions, and a healthy dose of optimism are the finest preparations; The “wrong” modifications are seen by the public as such.

Someone else could blame your time overseas for whatever “poor” characteristics you exhibit.

It’s important to keep an eye on yourself and be aware of your surroundings in order to avoid or limit negative reactions, especially in the first few weeks after returning home.

A lot of people are confused.

When it comes to comedy (especially sarcasm, banter, and other forms of wit), and techniques to demonstrate affection or initiate discussion, what you would consider wit might be perceived as hostility or showboating.

Also keep in mind that making frequent allusions to your travels may come off to others as haughty or even as a rejection of your native culture.

It is reasonable to experience some estrangement when real everyday life is less fun or more stressful than you recall.

Nothing has changed since you first left your hometown.

For many returning citizens, the lack of opportunities to put their newly acquired social, linguistic, and practical coping abilities to use in situations that seem unneeded or irrelevant is a source of disappointment.

Relax, because we’ve got this.

Experience is being lost or compartmentalized Due to the stress of returning home, as well as the demands of work, family and friends, many returning citizens are concerned about “losing” their experience, which they believe will result in them becoming compartmentalized like souvenirs or photo albums that are only occasionally taken out and looked through.

You are under no obligation to allow this to occur. Please keep in touch with those you have met. Contact those who have had similar situations to yours to get their perspective. Become more proficient. Always remember and appreciate your dedication and enjoyment when traveling overseas;

Articles, Books and Resources to Help You Readjust

  • The University of Iowa presents some quite useful suggestions for reestablishing a sense of belonging. The Art of Coming Home, written by Peace Corps volunteer Craig Storti, andStrangers at Home, written by Carolyn D. Smith, are two books to read on the experience of coming home after living abroad.
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Return to the Marquette University page.

Reverse Culture Shock Definition

Reverse culture shock is the emotional and psychological suffering experienced by certain persons upon returning home after spending a significant amount of time abroad. This might lead to unforeseen difficulties in readjusting to the culture and values of one’s home country, as one’s former familiarity has suddenly become strange. Globalization has resulted in an increasing number of people being assigned to long-term assignments in other nations, particularly in the business environment. With the increase in the number of expatriates who live and work in nations other than their home country in recent years, reverse culture shock has become a more common occurrence.

Key Takeaways

  • Reverse culture shock is the emotional and psychological suffering that people experience when they return home after spending a significant amount of time abroad. The rise of globalization has resulted in an increasing number of employees being assigned to extended assignments in other nations in the workplace. The longer the period of time spent overseas and the higher the cultural disparity, the greater the likelihood of experiencing reverse culture shock. The ability to detach from the habits and manner of the home country may be simpler to achieve if there is minimal frequent communication with relatives from the home country.

Understanding Reverse Culture Shock

The degree of reverse culture shock may be directly related to the amount of time spent abroad; the longer the period of time spent abroad, the higher the shock factor when the individual returns to his or her own country. Another element that may have an impact on the severity of reverse culture shock is the degree to which the cultures of the expatriate’s home country and the foreign nation diverge. Individuals who go abroad may find that their personal contacts back home are uninterested in hearing about their new experiences, which may exacerbate the gap between them and result in reverse culture shock.

How Reverse Culture Shock May Occur

As a person spends more time abroad and becomes more adjusted to their surroundings, it is possible that they will get more adapted to the local norms than they were when they were back home. For example, in many cultures, it is customary to take one’s shoes off before entering a home or other establishment. Adapting to such a tradition may result in a habit that is difficult to break after one returns home from a trip. It is possible that the speed of work and leisure may shift, which will first be disruptive to the individual’s lifestyle but will eventually become part of their new routine.

When it comes to the psychological and interpersonal aspects of reverse culture shock, the amount of communication that is maintained with family, friends, and coworkers in their home country can either exacerbate or decrease the severity of the reaction to it.

Individuals who have traveled abroad and returned home more frequently, as well as those who have formed a viewpoint on dealing with people from various cultures, are more likely to experience episodes of reverse culture shock.

How to Deal With Reverse Culture Shock

On your first visit back to your home country, you may find yourself feeling a little lost or out of place. It’s possible that the sensation is comparable to what you had upon arrival in your host nation.

Reverse cultural shock is the term used to describe what you’re going through. These sensations are very transient and are entirely natural. One of the most effective approaches to assist you in overcoming reverse culture shock is to educate yourself on the subject.

Common Stages of Reverse Culture Shock

(This is an excerpt from the book Back in the USA: Reflecting on Your Study Abroad Experience and Putting It to Good Use by Dawn Kepets.)

  • Disengagement As the day of your departure draws closer, you begin to think more about your return home. It’s the sensation of having one foot in your host nation and the other in your native country at the same time. You begin to consider how you will conclude your time abroad and make preparations for what you will do when you return home. Euphoria You begin to become thrilled about the thought of returning home at this point. Seeing old acquaintances, eating your favorite meals, and conversing in your original language are all things that come to mind. This stage may occur before you depart your host nation or it may occur immediately after you return home. Also, it may be rather brief, particularly for people who have been extremely well acclimated to their host culture. Students who were dissatisfied while abroad may not experience return shock at this point. Euphoria has been dampened. This stage happens after a brief period of time spent back in your own country and is defined by the sensation of being a stranger in one’s own home. You may be dissatisfied, alienated, and cynical of your own cultural background. Things that were once entirely commonplace to you now stand out as being unusual or abnormal. You get the impression that no one is interested in hearing about your experience and that they cannot connect to it. It is a fantastic chance to network with fellow study abroad returnees and ISEP alumni who have completed their studies abroad. While you are readjusting to life in your native nation, they can provide support and sympathy
  • The Process of Gradual Readjustment Things are no longer as surprising as they were before, and you are less critical of features of your society that troubled you during the period of dampened enthusiasm. You begin to reflect on what you have learnt while abroad and consider how you will apply what you have learned to your life back home. You may decide to incorporate specific qualities or practices of the host culture into your daily routine. You may begin to consider how you may use what you’ve learned both academically and professionally
  • This is a normal part of the learning process.

How to Handle Common Reverse Culture Shock Challenges:

After spending time in a foreign country where every task was an exciting challenge and you met a plethora of new people, returning to the familiar routines of home may feel tedious. As a result of your newfound foreign experience and language proficiency, you may seek out new avenues through which to channel your interests—including new acquaintances, groups, and hobbies, among other things.

No One Wants to Hear About Your Experiences

When you come home, you may find yourself wanting to chat about your travels nonstop, only to discover that others aren’t all that interested. Alternatively, you may be irritated by the number of times people ask “How was it?” as if there is a straightforward solution to that question. In many cases, people who have never had an overseas experience have difficulty understanding yours and may lose interest once they hear about the highlights of your stay abroad in your country. Find other study abroad returnees and talk with them about their experiences; they will be more receptive to hearing about your time abroad and will have tales to share with you, as well.

It’s Hard to Explain

You may find it difficult to fully express all of the sentiments you felt or all of the things you saw while you were overseas since you had so much to take in throughout your trip. It’s understandable if you feel that you can’t get others to grasp what you’re saying. Once again, this is an excellent opportunity to network with other study abroad returnees. Journaling or scrapbooking may also be beneficial in helping you articulate and express what you’ve been going through.

Reverse Homesickness

You will naturally miss your newfound friends and the host culture if you have formed strong bonds with them while in the country. Fortunately, technology makes it simple to stay in touch with your new pals via email, Skype, Facebook, and other social media platforms. It may be beneficial to seek out and make friends with people in your home country who are from your host nation.

Relationships Have Changed

You will naturally miss your newfound friends and the culture of your host country if you have developed strong bonds with them. Fortunately, technology makes it simple to stay in touch with your newfound pals via email, Skype, Facebook, and other social media platforms, among other methods. Making friends with people who are from your host nation at home may be beneficial.

People See “Wrong” Changes or Misunderstand You

Changes in your conduct or thoughts may cause some individuals to get upset. Feelings of envy, inferiority, and superiority are frequently at the basis of this negativity. This period usually passes fast if you are conscious of how others perceive you and are prepared to explain your changes in a manner that is neither arrogant nor defensive.

Feeling of Alienation or Seeing Home with Critical Eyes

After living in a different culture for a while, you may find yourself becoming critical of some features of your own society.

You should be aware that you went through a similar experience when you first arrived in your host society. You will eventually get a more balanced perspective and will be able to see the virtues and shortcomings of both cultures without being overly judgmental of either.

Inability to Apply New Knowledge and Skills

It is possible that you may believe that your newly learned language, cultural, and practical coping abilities will be of little use at home. However, with a little patience and perseverance, you will be able to discover applications for your abilities. Your university’s foreign office should be able to provide assistance in this matter.

Loss/Compartmentalization of Experience

Your experience may seem to be fading away as soon as you return home and get back into a pattern of daily activities and chores. Please do not allow this to happen. Maintaining touch with the people you made while traveling and sharing your experience with individuals who can connect to your journey can help you keep the memory of your trip alive.

  • Bring some of your host culture back with you to your own country and share it with your family and friends. Cook a favorite meal from your stay abroad for friends and family
  • Share your experience with other students to serve as an inspiration. Develop your leadership skills by becoming a mentor for international students on your campus, volunteering, or working in the international studies or study abroad office. OurISEP Ambassador Programprovides an organized framework to accomplish this
  • Consider incorporating some of the customs of the host culture into your daily routine back home. Make an effort to walk whenever you can after you return home if you loved the fact that everyone walked everywhere while you were away. Keep in touch with friends you made while you were away. Besides that, you may network with other ISEP students to provide advise and welcome newcomers to your host nation
  • Remember how it felt when you first arrived in your host country. These adaptation strategies will be effective when returning to your home culture after a period of time away from your host culture. New experiences were most likely a significant distraction
  • Discover strategies to keep yourself occupied with new experiences at home.

Reverse culture shock: what, when, and how to cope

Moving back home is not always easy — many people who return home feel alienated and out of touch with their surroundings. Here’s an explanation of reverse culture shock as well as expectations for the situation as well as strategies for dealing with the consequences. A psychological phase of repatriation is similar to that of expatriation in that it is unexpected and intimidating. Most notably, experiencing reverse culture shock upon going home is a surprise condition that is often neglected by both expats returning and their companies requesting that they return home to their home country of origin.

After being away for a while, it’s natural to be looking forward to returning home and visiting friends and family members, as well as wearing the rest of your clothing and dining at your favorite places.

When you find yourself feeling out of place in your own society, you have arrived.

The good news is that, while it may take some time, you will gradually begin to feel more at ease with your surroundings and with yourself.

How reverse culture shock happens

Leaving one’s native country is not always easy; many expatriates report feeling alienated and out of touch with their surroundings. Here’s an explanation of reverse culture shock as well as expectations for the situation as well as strategies for dealing with the impacts. A psychological phase of repatriation is similar to that of expatriation in that it is unexpected and overwhelming. Most notably, experiencing reverse culture shock upon going home is an unexpected circumstance that is often neglected by both expats returning and their companies requesting that they return home to their native country of residence.

After being away for a while, it’s natural to be looking forward to returning home and visiting friends and family members, as well as wearing the rest of your clothing and dining at your favorite restaurants.

Then you’ll notice that you’re feeling out of place inside your own culture.

That’s what reverse culture shock feels like; it’s the lowest point on the learning curve and sometimes the most difficult. Fortunately, although it may take some time, you will gradually begin to feel more at ease with your surroundings and with yourself as a person.

What is reverse culture shock?

As bizarre as it may sound, expats find themselves becoming less and less familiar with their former haunts with time. In the case of returning, perception is obscured by a veil of fog; it’s as though the audience member is roaming about in a place that is familiar but nonetheless unreal. “Re-entry shock is when you get the sensation that you are wearing contact lenses in the wrong eyes,” says Robin Pascoe, author of Homeward Bound: “re-entry shock is when you have the sensation that you are wearing contact lenses in the wrong eyes.” “Everything appears to be practically in order.” Simply said, being an expat entails such a long and in-depth international experience that it results in significant professional and personal transformation.

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You have a new perspective on old conventions and values from your home country, and expats and their families gain a new view on their surroundings; it’s like Dorothy changing from black and white to Technicolor in the Wizard of Oz.

After all, the expat had been living in a distant country for years, seeing new sights, sounds, and exotic scents along the way.

  • You’re bored
  • No one wants to listen
  • You don’t know what to say
  • Others misunderstand you because you have reversed their home sickness
  • Your relationships have altered
  • People have seen unfavorable changes in you
  • Feelings of exclusion and exclusionary
  • Inability to put new information and abilities into practice
  • Loss of experience or compartmentalization of it

How to deal with reverse shock

Despite the fact that you may feel like no one is interested in hearing what you have to say, there will be close friends and family members who will listen with open ears and genuine interest. Create a blog, communicate with friends you met while living abroad, or write articles. Look into whether there is a community from the country from which you have relocated and try to meet up with them in a social setting. Find new ways to incorporate your desire to tell stories with an audience that will pay attention to what you are saying.

Maintain your style and stay international

Things may have changed, and people (including yourself) may have changed, but this does not imply that a’repat’ should give up the characteristics and interests developed while living abroad in order to fit in. Maintain your way of life, from the cuisine you ate while traveling to the character of your emerging personality. In the event that you had a position of leadership while overseas, maintain an open and encouraging attitude in your new workplace. “Keep in mind that being adaptable and anticipating the unexpected helped you get through the difficult moments you had when traveling overseas.

“Reverse culture shock is a transitional period that can be a valuable learning opportunity.

Maintaining a worldwide perspective is a distinctive ability that should not be taken for granted or ignored. Read international periodicals and foreign newspapers, or use websites and forums to keep up with the latest news from your host country.

Ask for training

Foster suggests training classes not only for employees, but also for managers and supervisors from an occupational standpoint. To the contrary, everyone in the household has to be involved. “It is necessary to include the human resources department at least six months before returning.” This is done in order for the organization to guarantee a position for the expats who are eager to use their newfound talents. It is important for the entire family to adjust to the fact that they have all changed significantly while on international assignment,” says Foster.”Training will assess and value those changes, as well as recognize the ways their home country has changed while they were away.”In the end, the transition will require patience and even more openness than before,” says Foster.

As you prepare to be shocked, take pleasure in the unique pleasures of viewing your home from a fresh viewpoint.

Reverse Culture Shock

Reverse culture shock happens when an area that was previously completely familiar now appears weird and foreign to the one experiencing it. Studying abroad is disruptive in a positive sense, but it may also bring up some unexpected feelings and reactions. Reverse culture shock is similar to culture shock in that it comes in phases and affects different people in different ways. While it is nice to be reunited with friends and family and to return to the comforts of home, the thrill can rapidly fade as you return to your usual life and begin to miss your host nation.

The following suggestions can help you prepare for reverse culture shock and deal with it in a healthy and productive manner:

Expect some things to be different

It might be a bit disconcerting to find that while you were away on your vacation, life back home went on as usual. Because of this, you may find that your house is not quite what you remember it to be, which may result in some of the unpleasant emotions associated with reverse culture shock. The following are some of the most typical changes that pupils go through:

  • – Communication may be tough when separated, and returning to these connections can be awkward and tense
  • – You may feel as though you missed out on too many events while away, and as a result, you don’t fit in as well as you used to
  • – Your perception of the United States
  • As a result of your new perspectives, you will be able to look at your home country in a different light and call into question some of the things that you previously took for granted
  • – Your experiences abroad will almost certainly have an impact on your opinion of the United States, both positively and negatively
  • – Studying abroad may have opened your eyes to new professional possibilities and caused you to reevaluate your present route.

Realize that not everyone will understand the impact of your time abroad

You’ve just had the most incredible experience of your life. You’ve witnessed and experienced so many great things, and you’ve developed tremendously as a person. Explaining your own personal experiences and how they have impacted you, on the other hand, might be tough. Keep the following points in mind:

  • – If you have never lived or been in another country, it might be tough to comprehend every facet of the experience.
  • Perhaps the only question you’ll be asked is, “So, how was it?”
  • – People are truly interested, but they may not know what to ask you
  • – People are genuinely interested, but they may not know what to ask you
  • It is possible that you will have difficulty summarizing and expressing your experience abroad.
  • • Friends and family members do not want to believe that you have outgrown them.
  • For the time being, though, it may appear that you are no longer in the same manner about them since you have developed new views and viewpoints.
  • There is a possibility that others will not understand why you want to talk about your travels all of the time
  • Once again, since it’s difficult to relate to experiences you haven’t experienced, those around you may grow tired of hearing your tales
  • – Because it’s difficult to relate to experiences you haven’t had, those around you may grow tired of hearing your stories
  • Because of this, you may feel separated and alone.

Learn how to reconnect

Getting back in touch with your friends and family can be difficult in unexpected ways, but there are measures you can do to make the transition more comfortable. Rather than messaging or casually conversing with folks you haven’t seen in months, spend one-on-one time with them and actually listen to what they have to say. Any first unease will most likely dissipate quite quickly.

Embrace your growth

Rather of feeling like a misunderstood outsider, take time to acknowledge all of the good ways that you’ve grown and evolved.

Even though you have new thoughts and experiences, this does not always imply that you are a different person. You’ve just shown to yourself that you can push yourself to new heights and grow in incredible ways.

Look for other opportunities abroad

If you wish to make foreign travel a significant part of your life, you may do it without difficulty. Consider returning to study abroad or attending graduate school in a different nation. There are also a plethora of opportunities for internships, language study programs, and overseas volunteer opportunities.

Frequent travelers often experience ‘reverse culture shock’ — here’s what that is and how to deal with it

  • When you return home after spending time in a different culture, you are said to be experiencing reverse culture shock. Boredom, loneliness, and other symptoms are all possible. It might be incredibly tough to return to your normal routine at home after being away. Talking to a psychologist may be beneficial if the feelings don’t go away on their own.

If you’ve ever gone outside of your own country, the chances are good that you’ve experienced culture shock. There has been much discussion about this phenomena, but what about when you return home after spending some time abroad? The transition back to normal life may be just as difficult, if not more so, as the transition out of the military. However, this is rarely mentioned. As a result, what exactly is reverse culture shock? Reverse cultureshock, according to the United States Department of State, is defined as “the psychological, emotional, and cultural components of reintegration.” Basically, it’s all of the strange sentiments you get when you come home after being away for an extended period of time.

Here’s how you can tell if you’re experiencing reverse culture shock.

It’s important to pay close attention to your sentiments when you come home after a long journey. Photographs courtesy of Getty Images Unless you’ve been paying attention, you’ve probably suffered reverse culture shock without recognizing it. Have you ever felt a little bewildered, a little detached, or a little alienated after returning from a trip? However, while traveling for a few days in a foreign country may not have an impact on you, most out-of-country travels will be lengthy enough that, if you immerse yourself in the host nation’s culture, returning home will result in reverse culture shock.

You may also have homesickness for the location you’ve been, which is an odd sensation to have when you’re theoretically in your own country.

DFA Intercultural Global Solutions, which specializes on intercultural training, is the founder and president of DFA Intercultural Global Solutions.

“Reverse culture shock” is significantly more subtle and harder to deal with than outbound culture shock, he says, “since it is unexpected and unforeseen.” It has the ability to afflict anyone at any moment and present itself in a variety of ways.

I’ve dealt with reverse culture shock a few times.

Whatever your level of mental preparation, returning from overseas to your own country may be a challenging experience. Marcio Jose Sanchez for the Associated Press During my junior year in college, I spent a semester studying in Florence, Italy. Before I arrived, I mentally prepared myself for how different it would be to live in a place where the language was different and the culture was, in many respects, extremely different from my own. It took some time to get used to the new environment, but that was to be anticipated.

I returned to New York for the holidays, delighted to be returning after such a long time away from the city.

After spending four months listening to people talk in different languages, both in Italy and in the countries I’d visited, I was taken aback when I realized that everyone around me was speaking English as a first language.

It was in fact the ability to understand every word uttered to me when spoken to that made me realize how warm and welcoming everyone was.

Everything was different, even the most basic things, such as having supper earlier or shopping at large supermarkets. It was surreal.

You can lessen the effects of reverse culture shock.

There are a few things you can do to attempt to mitigate its effects. Ted S. Warren for the Associated Press While dealing with reverse culture shock may be unavoidable, the extent to which it affects you can be altered by your actions. If you’ve been traveling for a long amount of time, preparing yourself for re-entry can make a significant difference in your overall experience. Barends Psychology Practice encourages reaching out to your local friends and relatives to let them know you’ll be returning home soon and setting up a time to meet them when you do arrive.

  1. Making genuine closure with your trip, whether it’s saying goodbye to any new people you met or visiting your favorite places, will help you feel content with your whole journey.
  2. The psychologists at Barends Psychology Practice caution that it is tempting to draw comparisons between the worst aspects of being at home and the finest aspects of being abroad.
  3. However, it’s vital to remember that while your way of thinking and your ambitions may have shifted, individuals around you have not had the same life experiences as you have.
  4. Maintain your perspective by remembering that everyone is unique and that what makes you happy may not be what makes others happy.
  5. If your sentiments of reverse culture shock do not subside with time, it may be beneficial to consult with a psychologist to discuss how you are feeling about your situation.
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Reverse Culture Shock: What It Is and How to Respond

When you return to the United States, you may experience reverse culture shock, which is a feeling of unease. While you were away, you will undoubtedly have changed and matured, but things back home will most likely remain the same as they were. Coming home after experiencing reverse culture shock may be bittersweet. It is critical to acknowledge your sentiments and to understand that you are not alone in experiencing them at this time. The following are some of the symptoms of reverse culture shock, as well as some suggestions for how to deal with them.

  • In the United States, you may experience reverse culture shock, which is characterized by feelings of anxiousness. During your time abroad, you will undoubtedly have changed and matured, but situations back home are likely to remain the same or even worse. Coming home might be a bittersweet experience due to reverse culture shock. When you are experiencing these sensations, it is crucial to acknowledge them and realize that you are not alone in experiencing them. The following are some of the signs and symptoms of reverse culture shock, as well as suggestions for how to deal with them: Reverse Culture Shock Symptoms and Signs
  • Oversimplifying your International Experience: It might be discouraging to feel as though you are not communicating the relevance of your international experience effectively. It’s easy to slip into the trap of responding with “it was great!” or “it was life-changing!” every time someone inquires as to how your experience was. Especially if you were abroad for more than a few weeks, there were surely ups and downs as you adjusted to living in a new country and changing your whole way of life in the process. This, however, might be difficult to unpack and communicate to individuals who inquire about your travel experiences. Despite the fact that you know the genuine answer is far more intricate than that, it becomes easier to just state that everything was fantastic.
  • There has been a shift in attitudes regarding United States norms: When people come home after living or studying abroad for an extended length of time, it is normal for them to have a different view about their native country. Many distinct manifestations of this can be seen in different situations. It’s possible, for example, that you’ll find yourself becoming critical of practices, attitudes, and beliefs in the United States that didn’t concern you before leaving. For example, perhaps in the nation where you studied abroad, water use was strictly limited, and it was anticipated that everyone would take showers lasting less than 5 minutes. Back in the United States, you are taken aback by the amount of water that is consumed on a daily basis on your university’s grounds. Students who return to the United States after studying abroad frequently have these kinds of surprises.
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How to React When You Experience Reverse Culture Shock

  • The following resources are available on campus: If your school or other institutions in your region provide a re-entry seminar, attend it. This is an excellent method to connect with other students who may be going through a similar situation. When it comes to learning about how other students have dealt with reverse culture shock in the past and what other tools may be available to you, re-entry programs are a fantastic resource.
  • Community: Keep in touch with and share your experiences with other students who have traveled with you on your study abroad trip. It’s critical to surround yourself with people who understand what you’re going through. While it may be beneficial to vent and discuss issues about returning home, make sure to set aside some time to look ahead and consider how you will continue to make your international experience relevant in a good way.
  • Preserve your Experience: Another strategy for dealing with reverse culture shock is to recognise the significance of your own personal experience, regardless of whether or not people around you recognize it. Keep a diary or scrapbook of items that have to do with your host nation while you’re there. Maintain contact with friends, host families, and faculty members you met while studying abroad. If you have studied a foreign language, you should consider joining discussion groups to put your abilities to the test.
  • Pay it Forward: It may be tremendously fulfilling to share your travel experiences with those who are considering a trip to another country. Volunteer with your college’ study abroad office to assist other students who are traveling abroad or to make connections with international students who are coming to your university to study.
  • Make a plan for your next trip: Just because your study abroad adventure has come to an end does not imply that your worldwide experience has come to an end as well. Traveling, like learning, is an ongoing process that lasts a lifetime. Take a look at additional options for travelling overseas, such as volunteering abroad, interning abroad, or attending graduate school abroad.

When you return home, you may experience reverse culture shock right away or later on, after the novelty of being back home has worn off. Take time to check in with yourself and don’t dismiss what you’re thinking or feeling. Keep in touch with your study abroad experience in a variety of ways – look into what your institution has to offer and don’t be scared to get involved.

Module 11: Reverse Culture Shock

“Can you think of anything more straightforward than returning home? At the end of the day, you were born and raised in that culture, know the language(s), understand how the system works, are familiar with how to cope with the stresses of everyday life, and have an established support network. The fact, however, is that coming home after a big international experience is not without its challenges.” It seems to reason that visitors would feel another wave of culture shock when they return home since culture shock is produced by a rapid, extreme shift in surroundings.

  1. The first stage of happiness and enthusiasm that you should anticipate to experience upon returning is normal.
  2. In no time, you will notice that both you and your home environment have changed, and the honeymoon period will have come to an abrupt close.
  3. Many variables have a role in making this the most challenging period of re-entry: The realities of life at home: It’s possible that home will not be what you imagined.
  4. You may find it unnerving to discover that the faults and annoyances that you had forgotten about are no longer invisible when you come home.
  5. It will be difficult to leave this behind, especially if you don’t know when you will return to the country.
  6. Some of the changes that you notice in your friends and in your environment are subtle, and others may only become apparent under specific circumstances.
  7. (2)Due to the fact that the house you left is not the same as the home you are returning to, you may become confused and nervous.
  8. I had changed so much and seen so many things that it was difficult for me to relate to people and see that they, too, had changed over the time I had been away from home.
  9. University of Pennsylvania (three-star rating) Student, studying in Russia for a year Blindness to cultureshock: When you travel overseas, people are aware that you are a foreigner and treat you accordingly.
  10. Your role as a contributing member of society at home, on the other hand, will be expected of you as well.

Because you come from the same location as they do, people will believe that you are familiar with how things function. In fact, it’s possible that things have altered while you’ve been away. People will be oblivious that you are a little lost since you appear and sound like you ‘belong.'” (4)

Recovery and Adjustment

Approximately the same time that you will have recovered from your first culture shock, you will begin to integrate back into your home culture. Connections may change throughout time, and you may make new friendships with those who have gone through similar situations to yours. In addition to this, you will adapt the changes that have happened within you into your daily life at home. As a result of your travels, you will gain a new perspective on the world and will come to appreciate parts of your own culture that you had previously overlooked.

  • As a result of these and other factors, your reverse culture shock will be less severe than your first adjustment in your new country.
  • When you return home, expect to feel boredom, solitude, bewilderment, and frustration, among other things.
  • Maintaining a connection with your host nation while you are at home can reduce the likelihood of you compartmentalizing or “shoeboxing” your experience abroad when you return home.
  • What did you take away from the experience?
  • Answering these questions will assist you in processing the significance of your vacation as you reintegrate yourself back into your normal life.
  • Your friends who have traveled extensively or had other major experiences overseas are also excellent resources, since they are likely to be interested in and connect to your trip.
  • Whatever you do to retain your connection with the rest of the world will serve to emphasize the value of your journey.

In addition to writing articles for a local newspaper, arranging a picture show, speaking at student events on campus, and organizing fundraisers, there are a variety of other methods you may raise awareness and mobilize others to assist individuals who live in poverty in other countries.

Footnotes

(1) “Back home: Neither here nor there,” says the narrator. What’s the Deal with Culture? Module 2.3. The University of the Pacific is located in San Francisco, California. (2)”Back home: Neither here nor there,” says the author. (3) “How to Overcome Reverse Culture Shock.” 2003. Students Assisting Other Students (Natavi Guides) “Culture Shock – Canada,” says the author. British Expatriot Wiki.Britishexpats.com is a resource for British Expatriots living abroad. The Northeastern University Office of International Study Programs published an article titled “Reentry Shock.” “Back Home: Neither Here Nor There,” says the narrator.

Reverse Culture Shock – Loyola Marymount University

The concept of Reverse Cultural Shock may be understood in terms of the culture shock that occurs when a person moves to a foreign country. Many of the same events and circumstances that cause stress when adjusting to a foreign culture often cause tension on the return trip to the country of origin. The same way that people experience culture shock, many parts of reverse culture shock are subjective, which means that each person’s experience of readjusting to his or her home culture will be unique.

  • Maintain an open mind regarding reverse culture shock and the numerous ways in which it may influence you as you learn about these prevalent themes.
  • Reverse Culture Shock: An Overview of the Issues and Challenges 1.Boredom After all of the novelty and excitement of your time abroad, returning home to family, friends, and old routines (however pleasant and comforting they may be) might be a bit monotonous.
  • “No One Wants to Hear It” is number two on the list.
  • Not that you or your accomplishments have been rejected, but rather that once they have heard the highlights, it is doubtful that your audiences will be interested in hearing anything further from you or about you.
  • Please keep it brief.
  • Trying to describe this type of experience to individuals who do not share the same frames of reference or travel histories as you is extremely challenging, no matter how sympathetic they are as listeners or observers.
  • It’s all right.

While keeping in touch with family and friends through letters and phone calls might help to alleviate some of the sadness, it is important to recognize that feelings of loss are a normal part of any overseas experience and must be anticipated and embraced as a natural effect of studying abroad.

  1. People back home are sure to have experienced some changes as a result of your travels, just as you have adjusted some of your beliefs and attitudes while overseas.
  2. Flexibility, openness, a lack of assumptions, and a healthy dose of optimism are the greatest ways to prepare.
  3. Others may attribute any “poor” characteristics you possess to the effect of your time spent overseas.
  4. It is vital to keep an eye on yourself and be aware of the responses of others around you in order to avoid or limit them, especially in the first few weeks following your return.
  5. 7.Most people are misinformed A small number of people will misinterpret your words or behaviors in such a manner that communication becomes challenging.
  6. Offers of assistance in the kitchen may be interpreted as a critique of food preparation, new dress styles may be interpreted as provocative or improper, and allusions to your host nation or the usage of a foreign language as bragging.
  7. Alienation/Critical Eyes are the eighth symptom.

After a period of time in which actual everyday life is less fun or more difficult than you recalled, it is natural to experience some estrangement, to recognize flaws in society that you had previously overlooked, and even to become highly critical of everyone and everything for a period of time.

If you want to make mental comparisons, go ahead, but keep them to yourself until you have regained your cultural equilibrium and a balanced viewpoint.

Thousands of returning citizens have expressed dissatisfaction with the lack of opportunities to put their newly acquired social, linguistic, and practical coping abilities to use in situations that appear to be unneeded or irrelevant.

10.Loss of Experience/Diversification of Knowledge (shoeboxing) Being at home, combined with the pressures of school, family, and friends, frequently causes returnees to be concerned that they will “lose” their experience; that they will become compartmentalized, like souvenirs or photo albums that are kept in a box and only occasionally taken out and looked at, as if they had never been away.

Keep track of your contacts.

Make use of your abilities.

Taken from: What’s Up With Culture?

Student Psychological Services (SPS) at Loyola University Chicago Students, professors, and staff who are worried about a student can get confidential telehealth and in-person individual and group counseling, walk-in consultations, and emergency psychiatric consultation from Marymount University.

Our services are provided at no cost to you. SPS is accredited by the International Association of Counseling Services, Inc., which is a professional organization.

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