Reverse Culture Shock – What is it and how to deal?

Vancouver, BC | Posted: December 21st, 2018

After travelling abroad or volunteering in impoverished countries, travellers can often find adapting to their regular day-to-day at home a little more difficult. We hear about culture shock when you arrive in a foreign country, but we don’t often talk about the reverse. What is Reverse Culture Shock and how do you deal with it when you come home?

After spending time in a new country where you’ve adapted to hearing a different language, immersed yourself in a new culture, and gotten accustomed to a way of life much different than yours at home, it can be tough to adapt to your regular life. If you’re travelling for an internship or you have an extended volunteer program you are part of; you will undoubtedly return home a changed person. Your views of the world will have changed, and the things you value will likely have changed.

When you return home, you may feel some level of frustration at things that people complain about, or the things your friends and family take for granted. Here are a few tips on how to deal:

Keep in Contact with Those You’ve Met Abroad

If those at home find it hard to relate to your experience, you may not feel you have an outlet to vent those frustrations. Make sure you stay in contact with the new friends you’ve made along the way so you can build your little network of people that understand your struggles.

Mentally Prepare for Your Return

It’s important to return home understanding that things will be much different than when you left. With all of the changes you’ve experienced, you may feel like everything has changed. Try to prepare yourself mentally and know that this is the experience of many.

Talk About It

Keeping your feelings bottled in is not helpful, ever, so we recommend you talk about your experiences with friends and family. Explaining to them how it feels to return home after so long away in another culture will help them to see the blessings they have in their own daily lives.

Keep a Journal

Journaling is a great way to vent your frustrations that you aren’t comfortable to share with those at home. Writing down your feelings can get them off of your mind so you can focus on the things you need to do now that you’ve returned. It can also help remind yourself how lucky you are to have had the experiences you had and keep yourself in check.

Find a Hobby or Learn a New Skill

Discover more about yourself by encouraging yourself to learn something new. Whether it is a professional skill or just something you enjoy as a hobby, this can help make you feel connected to yourself and your surroundings. You may even find a new skill you can apply to a program you’re interested in for the future.

Remind yourself that this is normal. Reverse Culture Shock depression, anxiety, and frustrations are all normal feelings. You’re not the first, and you won’t be the last to feel this way, and there are groups and forums all around of people you can speak with and find a connection.

Sarah Lafontaine

Sarah Lafontaine

Sarah is a travel writer, citizen of the world and lover of the Pacific Northwest and tacos. When not writing she can be found searching for her next travel destination or exploring with her dog, Otto.

Read about her adventures on her blog Sarah Seize the World and follow her on Instagram @sarahseizetheworld