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Reverse culture shock: How to settle in back home after traveling

Reverse culture shock: How to settle in back home after traveling

Spending time abroad is transformative, and the journey is punctuated with new experiences, people, and customs. With that, can sometimes come culture shock. As time goes on, many of the things that initially shocked you become normal. So normal in fact, that when you return home you may struggle with similar feelings when trying to readjust — this is known as reverse culture shock.

Travelers suffering from reverse culture shock may feel disconnected from their homes, families, and friends, bored by their day-to-day lives and long to return to their life abroad. This phenomenon is also known as the ‘repatriation blues,’ and we’ve got a few tips to help you overcome it as you settle in back home.

1. Stay connected to your international friends

It’s never been easier to stay connected after you return home. Even if you’re no longer seeing your fellow international student mates or host family every day, that doesn’t mean you can’t keep in touch. Maintaining relationships with friends abroad will allow you to stay connected to your international identity. They’re the ones who know exactly what your journey looked like and chances are they’re struggling to readjust too. So who better to lean on for support?

2. Manage expectations

Most people begin to feel the effects of reverse culture shock after the initial excitement of returning home has subsided. Being mentally prepared for this will help you understand that it’s just a phase that many people go through. Be kind to yourself, as well as those around you, and put the other strategies listed here into place while you wait for it to pass. 

3. Focus on the positives

Instead of focusing on what you feel you’ve lost by returning home, try to focus on the positives you’ve gained. These may be things such as reconnecting with loved ones, being able to buy your favorite foods at the supermarket, or visiting your favorite cafe. Relish in watching movies or TV in your language, or take time to pursue job or study opportunities that you might not have been able to do abroad. This shift in perspective will help you appreciate the perks of being back home.

4. Act like a tourist at home

If you’re missing the thrill of living abroad where everything feels exciting and new, why not take the time to explore your hometown? There are bound to be walking and cycling trails, parks, restaurants, and events you’ve never been to — now’s the time to check them out. By acting like a tourist in your own town, you’ll get that same buzz of excitement you get when traveling. And don’t forget to take lots of photos too. You can share them with your friends abroad and entice them to come and visit.

5. Fill your calendar

If your time abroad was filled with language classes, excursions, group dinners, weekend trips, and studying, you may struggle with the change in pace when returning home. Establishing some routines when you get home can provide much-needed structure to your days. Whether it’s studying, working, volunteering, or sports activities, filling your calendar with enjoyable and meaningful activities will help you settle in much quicker.

6. Make international friends at home

One of the best things about studying abroad is the chance to make friends from all over the world. But, you don’t have to go overseas to do that. Chances are, people from all walks of life are living in your hometown, especially if you live in a big city. And the best way to meet them? Try new things. Sign up for cultural classes about cooking, dancing, or languages, find a conversation partner, try a new hobby, or attend local festivals.

7. Share your experience

After the initial warm welcome home, you may feel like your friends and family begin to lose interest in hearing about your study abroad trip. That’s completely normal, try not to let it get you down. Instead, find a simple way to share your international experience with your loved ones. Maybe you could cook a typical meal you enjoyed while living abroad. Or introduce them to a game or TV series you discovered while traveling. 

8. Start planning the next trip

If you’re struggling to readjust to life back home after several months, it might be a sign that you’re yearning for another adventure. Home will always be there, so don’t be afraid to look at other opportunities to travel, study, or work abroad again. Who knows, maybe you are destined for a career as a digital nomad.

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