Simply knowing that returning home is often accompanied with its own version of culture shock (i.e. reverse culture shock) won’t help you avoid it, in and of itself.
What will help is to take these steps to reversing reverse culture shock, the second of which is to manage your expectations.
In order to manage them, you must first know what they are.
Think ahead and develop healthy mental and physical strategies for the potential obstacles facing you upon your return home.
The best way to do that is to brainstorm and write it down.
The following lists can help you with that.
First, consider what your expectations are about your return home.
What changes do you expect – in both your home and in you? How will you interact with these changes, and how will your family, friends, and environment interact with you?
Answer the following questions to help identify your expectations:
- How will I feel about home? How will I feel about leaving my host country?
- What does home look like? Will it be like the last photo your memory took?
- What will be different there? What will be the same? What will I have to get used to?
- What will be easier upon returning home? What will be more frustrating?
- How will the people in my life interact with me? How will I interact with them?
- What are my goals upon returning home? What are my next steps? How will I set out to achieve them?
- How will my life change? What is my new role at home?
After having an idea about what your expectations are, you should prepare some healthy ways to manage them and to cope with reverse culture shock.
This will help you readjust readily to your home country.
If you already have healthy ways of dealing with stress, then use these.
If you don’t, try not to avoid unhealthy habits and prepare some healthy ones, like one/or more of the following:
- Participate in common methods of stress-relief, like good diet, exercise, soothing hobbies, etc.
- Organize your time and energy so that adjustment is manageable
- Communicate with friends abroad and local friends
- Get involved in community activities or groups to socialize and adjust, such as clubs, sport teams, religious/spiritual groups, community service groups, international groups, etc.
- Transfer or modify some of the values/norms of your host culture to your home
We’ll talk more about this last bullet point next week, in Step 3: Transferring & Modifying Culture.