Overcoming Reverse Culture Shock When You Return From Abroad

Reverse culture shock actually does shock many students who return from abroad.

You’ve changed in the few months (or year) that you’ve been away, and so has the US. Readjusting to this country can be just as difficult as it was to adjust to the host country you recently left.

Stages of Reverse Culture Shock

The stages of reverse culture shock begin before you even leave your host country. As your time abroad begins to dwindle, you start to disengage and think about your return from abroad.

When you step off the plane, you’re excited to be back. That tapers as you find out your friends and family don’t seem as interested in your experiences as you had hoped. That turns into disappointment and loneliness as you realize America isn’t as idyllic as you remembered. You may feel like a stranger in your own country.

Gradually you’ll readjust, and American culture will again feel normal. If you spoke a foreign language during your study abroad program, you’ll find that your English will have improved by this time.

Coping With Reverse Culture Shock When You Return From Abroad

The better you adjusted to student life abroad and the foreign culture, the worse you will find the reverse culture shock when you return from abroad. You’ll miss your new friends and may find your conversation a mesh of English and the foreign language.

A few weeks before you return from abroad, start reading articles in American newspapers online. This will provide a crash course on current events at home.

When you return from abroad, keep in contact with other students who have studied abroad. They’ll understand what you’re going through, and you can exchange stories about your overseas adventures.

Understand that many of your friends and family won’t have the same connection to the foreign country as you have. Resist thinking of them as unworldly just because they don’t know the big news from the country you just left.

Maintain your interest in foreign affairs after you return from abroad, even if your friends and family don’t share it.

  • Practice your new language with foreign students at your home university.
  • Welcome and make friends with new international students.
  • Speak to students who are considering a study abroad program.
  • Join a foreign-language or international club.

While you were gone, your old friends may have graduated or moved away. Campus could have changed. The city could have changed. Expect differences and adjust to them in the same way you adjusted to living in a foreign country.

Studying abroad has taught you new skills and made you more independent. Remember this as you return from abroad, readjust to living in the US and overcome reverse culture shock.