Reverse Culture shock and Reuniting
Reverse culture shock and reuniting.
Since it is International Education week this week, I'd like to shed some light on something I didn't quite understand when reading it in the ISEP handbook. Reverse culture shock. Like many, this term could seem odd to you, especially when you read the handbook and it describes it as culture shock but in your home country. Many of you who haven't experienced their study abroad semester or year, may be thinking, how on earth can that happen? I'm used to my home county and the culture it possesses. How can I feel disoriented in my familiar surroundings? Well, it's definitely a reality. I'd like to share my story and hopefully educate you a little on the term, as well as reassure you.
I returned home after my year abroad around four months ago. Like everyone else I had the time of my life whilst I was abroad. I met wonderful people, immersed myself in the culture and made life-long friends.
But once I returned home, I felt oddly unfamiliar with my surroundings, even though I had spent 20 years in them. I felt I had a piece missing and I didn't quite know why. Reverse culture shock. I'm not going to lie to you and say everything was exactly the same as I left, because it isn't. For me personally, my year abroad in America and Australia increased my confidence, my inter-personal skills and my independence as well as introduced people that I formed a strong bond with, over such a small amount of time. Now I don't live half way round the world, in the culture I learned to love, home feels not so homely anymore.
However, I'm not saying that this change is bad. I'm saying that the experience of studying abroad allowed me to grow and mature in ways I didn't know were possible. Return culture shock is something that happens because you're not the same person as when you left. You're more experienced, more culturally aware and in some cases a lot happier. So it's normal to feel like something isn't quite right when being back home. It shows that you have gained from studying abroad, apart from your tan or your Facebook friend list, of course.
I think some of the Reverse culture shock came from me missing the friendships I had formed, so I decided to change this and met up with my Friends from Germany. We had a whole day to catch up so decided the best way would be drinking lots of Starbucks and good old German alcohol. Even though it was just one day, it made me realise that the bonds that were formed wouldn't disappear just because of the distance between us. It made me feel a lot happier and I that the oddness of being back home was just due to missing what I had gained. Just like people getting homesick which is hard at first but eases in time.