As you re-enter the United States after some time abroad, you may experience reverse culture shock. When first traveling abroad, you’re expecting to experience some degree of culture shock as you adjust to a new place, a new language, a new way of life. When you come back home to the States after so much time abroad, though, you may be surprised to find it’s harder than you thought to get used to “normal” life again.
Here are some tips on how to deal with reverse culture shock.
Take some time to think: You may be surprised at the changes you see upon coming home. You’re not the same, and your home is definitely not the same. Even making a choice in a restaurant or grocery store can seem overwhelming, especially if you’re coming back from a simple village in Africa, for example, where there is no choice. Some companies and organizations will do all they can to get you ready for the trip home and immersion in your home country. The Peace Corps, for example, holds a “close of service conference” in a volunteer’s host country at the end of a program abroad (which can last up to two years) to help prepare them for the hurdles of returning home after so much time away, says CNN. Take advantage of these programs to sit back, think, and prepare for the next journey ahead of you. Think of this time as a buffer between your old life and “new” one.
Connect with others online: Upon your return, you’ll find that your family and friends may not be interested in hearing your tales of service or business abroad after the first few tellings. Instead, turn to others like you who have gone through the same thing and find solace in sharing your stories with others. Forums like Campfire and Chalkboard offer online communities where you can discuss your travels with others as well as the tribulations of re-adjusting to life in the fast-paced United States. There are also message boards, Facebook groups and other online communities you can join to feel included.
Re-introduce yourself to the language: When spending weeks or months in Thailand, China, Mexico or anywhere else, you may have had to boost your knowledge of the local language while simplifying your use of your native tongue. Upon your return, you may realize you’ve been using rudimentary English for quite some time, speaking in a kind of broken jargon and using facial expressions and other ways of communicating. After all, you just learned a foreign language through the innovative BRIC Language System, and now you have to re-adjust to your old language. Just get back into intellectual and thorough conversations with fellow Americans and read your way through books to get back up to speed. Your knowledge of the language will return sooner than you think!