Reverse Culture Shock: How to readapt to the life you left behind

Rewind back to the time when you were preparing to study overseas and you will be reminded of the term ‘culture shock’. Friends and family were all worried about your move and how you would cope with a new life in a country completely different to the one you were brought up in.

Of course, you came across some hitches. You missed the close network of friends you had built up all your life and started to feel a little sad and lonely. You became irritated when people didn’t understand you. And you missed the food you ate back in your home country like crazy.

But on the plus side, there were lots of people to look after you and help you adapt. The university’s International Office provided an induction which taught you all about the different cultures and customs of your new temporary home, including directions to the supermarket where you could buy the ingredients for that much loved cuisine you were so badly craving.

You eventually became settled and started to adapt to your new surroundings; maybe you even started to refer to your new country as ‘home’. But what happens when you come to the end of your overseas journey, and you have to prepare yourself for reverse culture shock?

Here are some of the challenges you may face upon returning home:

Home has changed

Although you’ve been away some time, you go back home thinking that everything will have remained the same. But time doesn’t stay still, and you find that your parents have moved house, or your friends have made new friends, or now have boyfriends or girlfriends that they didn’t have when you left, and you’re not really sure where you fit in.

You have changed

Speaking of change, whether you like it or not, your overseas experience will have changed you as an individual. While you think everything at home is different, people might think the same about you and may struggle to come to terms with this ‘new’ you.

You think people don’t care

While your experience overseas was absolutely fascinating for you, the people you left behind may not share the same enthusiasm. It might be that they are envious of the amazing adventure you had and are therefore not interested in hearing about it.

You miss university

It took you ages to get used to living in a new country, but now that you’ve left, you miss everything about it. You feel like you’re in limbo; you don’t really belong in your new country and you’ve had to leave your old one behind.

Remember when you first moved, you had to be patient and give yourself time to adapt. You’ve done it once before, so you can certainly do it again. Of course you can talk about your time at university; but at the same time, remember that it’s not all about you. Take time to listen to your friends and family, and find out what they have been up to while you have been away. Try your best to integrate into your home country.

Apply these principles and you should be just fine. But if you’re not, and you still miss the country you just left, then maybe you need to consider where your future lies. Your university degree should have prepared you for employment prospects overseas, so what are you waiting for? Start applying for jobs and get back to the place you love!

Images via Shutterstock

Liked this? Then you’ll love these…

How to cope with culture shock

This new job network is opening doors for international graduates in Asia