We’ve been talking a lot the past few weeks about what it feels like to return home after spending significant time in another culture.
As an expat, you may find your return surprisingly difficult – mostly because reverse culture shock is unexpected.
In fact, you may become homesick for your host country.
Curious about what other side effects you may face?
In his book, The Art of Coming Home, Craig Storti outlines four mental and emotional side effects of returning home.
Your experience living in another culture has changed who you are. Your identity has changed, your perspective has changed. You see things through a different lens.
You may find there’s a strain between your society and this new identity. You may feel like you don’t fit in in your own culture.
You are “home,” but your home doesn’t feel entirely comfortable anymore.
Upon returning home, the values and norms you’ve adapted to abroad may make you more judgmental about your home country and society.
You may feel frustrated with the routines back home – or even unfamiliar with them.
You might find yourself displacing this frustration on other people, becoming impatient and unpleasant.
In recalling your life abroad, you may romanticize your time there and find your home unpleasant in comparison.
This is normal.
Assessing the differences between your host country and your home country and feeling these frustrations is a typical reaction in returning home.
Readjusting to a culture you’ve been apart from for a long time is just as exhausting as the initial adjustment to your host country.
You have to relearn and consciously perform routines, customs, basic functions, or logistical tasks that were once done by rote, making the experience overwhelming.
Your own culture will hit you like a wave.
Just keep swimming.
You may feel so disillusioned about your home culture that you start to withdraw from it and resist readapting to it, avoiding contact with your own society.
This can provoke feelings of self-doubt or even depression.
You might want to escape.
Reversing Reverse Culture Shock
Knowing all the effects of reverse culture shock can help you be prepared for them upon your return and build an action plan.
Luckily, you have one in your back pocket.
You are by now familiar with the steps it takes to feel at home in a culture.
After all, you adapted to a foreign one not too long ago.
And while it may seem silly, you must now apply them to your own culture and country in order to reintegrate back in.
Next week, we’ll talk about those steps in the context of returning home.