6 Tips For Dealing With Reverse Culture Shock

July 8, 2015

Upon returning to your home country, you may feel slightly disoriented or out of place; it may be similar to what you felt when you arrived in your host country. This is called return shock or reverse culture shock. These feelings are temporary and completely normal. But being aware of this phenomenon can help you deal with it proactively. The following are a few strategies to help you cope, along with some additional information on common challenges upon re-entry to your home country.

Common re-entry challenges and tips for coping:

Heloise Nouvel Georgia Amicalola Falls State Park

1. No one wants to hear your story

Upon return, you may want to talk non-stop about your time abroad only to find that people don’t seem that interested. Or you may feel frustrated that people ask “How was it?”—as if there is a simple answer to that question. Frequently, people who haven’t had an international experience have a hard time relating to yours and may lose interest once they hear the highlights of your time abroad.

Tips for coping:

  • Try cooking your favorite dish from your host culture for people at home. Your story just got way more intriguing and delicious! Also, download music you’ve been listening to abroad and share it with friends.
  • Seek out other study abroad returnees. They will be more receptive to listening to all the details about your time abroad and will have stories to share with you as well. Check out our Facebook and LinkedIn groups and join a discussion.
  • Write a review about your program: Even if others might seem disinterested about your experience, prospective students won’t. Your feedback could persuade a student to go on your program. Check out GoAbroad Reviews and Abroad 101 Reviews.
  • Become a professional blogger.  Your story could help inspire others to study abroad. Share your story by writing a blog or creating a video of your time abroad. Getting published and sharing your experience is never a bad thing (especially for your resume).  Life After Study Abroad and College Tourist are other outlets for getting your story published.

2. You’re extremely bored

Ramzi Abdellaoui Koh Si Chang Island Thailand

After being abroad where a daily task was an exciting challenge and you were meeting so many new people, returning to the comfortable routines of home may seem boring.

Tips for coping:

  • Seek out new outlets to channel your new interests—new friends, clubs, activities, etc that highlight your international experience and language ability.
  • Consider integrating some host culture habits into your routine at home.
  • Take advantage of re-entry meetings offered by your home university.

3. You’re experiencing reverse homesickness

Danielle Howlett Thailand ISEP Study Abroad

If you made good friends and grew to love the host culture, it’s only natural that you will miss it upon leaving.

Tips for coping:

4. Your relationships have changed

Andrew Martinez Chile ISEP Study Abroad

Just as you’ve changed while abroad, people back home have undergone changes while you were away. You may notice that you relate to people differently than before. Whether positive or negative, this is normal.

Tips for coping:

  • Handle it with patience and without losing sight of why you were close to the person in the first place.
  • We recommend “Twelve Tips for Welcoming Returnees Home,” by Dr. Bruce La Brack and Margaret D. Pusch’s for any friends or family members who are having a hard time understanding what you are going through.

5. You’re feeling alienated and hyper-critical about your home culture

Bailey Wiles Savoie ISEP Direct After experiencing a different culture, you may find yourself critical of some aspects of your home culture.

Tips for coping:

  • Know that you had to go through these same feelings upon arrival in your host culture. In due time, you will gain a more balanced perspective and realize the strengths and weaknesses of both cultures without being critical.
  • Create a pros-and-cons list comparing different aspects of you home and host culture. You might realize that there are more things to be grateful about in your home culture than you originally thought.

6. You feel like your study abroad experience is slipping away from you

Abby Hegland Buenos Aires ISEP Study Abroad

After getting back into the routine of life at home, you may feel like your experience is slipping away from you. Don’t let this happen.

Tips for coping:

Read more about reverse culture shock and re-entry in our guides and tips section. Also feel free to tweet us @isepstudyabroad if you have any questions.

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