Design Your Life

Reverse Culture Shock

By Jessica Belle

Share

 

“Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” – Miriam Beard

Upon returning to the US after living and working in London, my family, friends, and coworkers all welcomed me with great excitement. And along with their welcoming smiles, they offered comments about how “stick-thin” I looked. I had lost 30 pounds while living in England, mainly because I walked everywhere. I also ate much healthier. I was in the best shape of my life, but their concerned eyes said that I looked otherwise. This was my first pang of reverse culture shock.

You may well know culture shock as the feeling of disorientation you experience when visiting a foreign country. Reverse culture shock occurs when you find it difficult to transition back into life in your home country. Here are a few things to expect when reorienting to your home country:

Sensory adjustments 

These are things like smells and sounds, weather, hours of sunlight, and the general pace of the life all around. I recall on my first visit to Paris, how intimate the local culture was. From my very American perspective, everyone talked very softly and very physically close to one another. I remember initially thinking, “This place is so quiet that it’s scary.” But when I returned to London, my ears were ringing from all the “noise.” I never realized how loud and lively London was until I spent time away.

Psychological/Emotional adjustments


These might be things like feeling out of touch, finding it hard to communicate easily, or even feeling jaded toward your home country. When you move to another country, your perceptions change. Everything is different than you’ve known your entire life and after a while you begin to accept this new reality. Although you’ve changed and accepted a broader reality of the world, when you come back home, you might be shocked to find everything just as you left it. The hardest part of this adjustment is the feeling that no one really understands, or even cares about the things that you now care about.

Wanderlust

In general, you might feel overwhelmingly BORED. You are no longer trekking the world, experiencing new and different things. You are back in a routine lifestyle where everything is the same.

To help deal with the adjustment phase, try to remember a few key things:

  1. You are not the same, and that’s a great thing!
  2. Don’t think of your home country as better or worse. Just different.
  3. Become an explorer of your home country. There is just as much to learn and grow from in your own back yard.

Have you experienced reverse culture shock? How did you manage the transition?

Share
Travel Noire

Jessica Belle

Jessica works in Finance in Washington, DC but makes world travel a high priority. After living and working in Europe, wanderlust took Jessica over a cliff in Mexico, across the deserts of Dubai, and through Kenya’s renowned game reserves. Her view is: Travel is one of the best investments one can make in their own happiness.

Want more?

Get exclusive, unpublished tips from Travel Noire's CEO to help you get off the beaten path, into the hearts of locals and onto a better, more cultured life.

From Being In Debt To Living Abroad Debt Free With Their Young Daughter In Tow

From Being In Debt To Living Abroad Debt Free With Their Young Daughter In Tow

AJ and Chinique Gordon of frofamilytravels realized early in their relationship that settling for life in the United Kingdom wasn’t in their plan. Traveling was big for them and every time they returned from a trip, they were left with a void. After years of talking about escaping the traditional 9-5 lifestyle, the couple set […]

DeAnna Taylor

WATCH: Black Expats Shut Down Seoul, South Korea With This ‘Before I Let Go’ Performance

WATCH: Black Expats Shut Down Seoul, South Korea With This ‘Before I Let Go’ Performance

After the release of Queen Bey’s ‘Homecoming’ documentary, we all went crazy over the release of the live album from the event. While many of the songs were known, Bey threw in a surprise rendition of the cookout classic, ‘Before I Let Go.’ As with any catchy song these days, a dance challenge soon followed. […]

DeAnna Taylor

I Managed To Travel The World With Only $2 In My Bank Account

I Managed To Travel The World With Only $2 In My Bank Account

For the last three years, NikkiFaye has been traveling the world full-time. The Georgia native spent most of her life in California before making the move abroad. She considers the world her home and typically spends around 3 months in each location before heading off to the next place. Currently, she’s spending the next few […]

DeAnna Taylor