Trekking Through Reverse Culture Shock

Leaving Host Country and Joy of Being Back:

You just had a life-changing time abroad and are now back in the US eager to take on life with this new ‘foreign’ you. Plus you get to go back to all those amenities you missed like free water and air conditioning! Enjoy this while it lasts and remember these moments as you progress down the trail of reverse culture shock.

Slight Annoyances with Surface Cultural Issues:

Gradually as you spend more time back home you start to notice things that don’t really make you mad, only annoy you. Like maybe you just came back from Brazil and now all your friends think you speak Spanish, or going to that Thai/Chinese/Japanese restaurant just really isn’t the same as stepping out your door in Thailand to get street food. The key here is to not talk all the time about your experience abroad, but instead to share your story in writing, online or in your own personal journal.

Bottom of the Valley:

Depending on who you are this could come two weeks after being back home, three months after being home, or not at all. But this is where you realize that you are truly not used to your own customs, an alien in the motherland, foreign at home. This part can be exhausting and in some cases cause depression so just remember that you’ll get through it and time heals all wounds.

On the Up and Up:

This is your second wind, where you begin to realize that you can go back to where you studied abroad, or that you have an actual travel bug and want to go on a completely new adventure. This can also culminate in you coming to terms with being home, making new connections and slowly starting to merge your ‘American’ self and your ‘foreign’ self. The best way to kick this step off is to connect with locals from the country where studied abroad, maybe even get a job at a bakery or restaurant!

End of the Trek: Re-integration and the New and Improved You

You’ve finally been home long enough to fully process and understand your time abroad. This is the last and final step of reverse culture shock where you can finally assimilate yourself fully into American culture. This means combining your new self into your old life and finding a perfect combination of your two ‘personalities’ which will shape who you are for the rest of your life.

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