Reverse Culture Shock
Welcome home! We hope your study abroad experience was life changing. You’ve traveled the world, lived independently, and may even have learned a new language. Congratulations. I’m sure adjusting to your host country took a bit of time before you could really feel comfortable and confident. But did you know that same phenomenon actually happens quite often to students upon their return to the United States?
This is called “reverse culture shock”. Suddenly, what used to feel familiar: your old house, the freeways, the grocery store, now feels completely foreign because you are adjusted to a totally different environment. These feelings are common and will fade with time.
Being mindful is extremely helpful with reacclimating to your surroundings. Compare all the ways in which life here in the states differs from where you were just living? And beyond that, how have you changed? Are there any new hobbies, passions, skills, perspectives you’ve acquired? Do you have a new life trajectory because of this experience?
Listen to that voice and do some self reflection. Maybe write things down, make a travel photo album, or hang up your souvenirs to help process your thoughts. Communicating with the new friends you’ve made while studying abroad is also very helpful. They understand what you’ve just gone through and were there. Most likely they are feeling the same way too. Maintaining that connection to your classmates, host family, or new friends is a beautiful way to honor your study abroad experience and remember all of the wonderful benefits you now have because of it.