Have you ever returned home, only to feel like home was more foreign than any of the exotic locales you’ve visited? You’re not alone. Reverse culture shock has a way of ambushing people, despite how much you may have heard about it. When we travel, we have our awareness up. We know we must learn and adapt. But home? We let our guard down. We don’t have to think too hard, because we’re back on familiar ground. Or so we think.
CNNGO published the Ultimate checklist for returning U.S. expats. The article covers a wide range of topics, ranging from practical matters like money to more social niceties like pop culture. The writer is mostly tongue-in-cheek in tone, particularly the section on what’s hot and what’s not these days.
More sobering is the final section on reverse culture shock. Every one of the points resonated with me. Here’s one excerpt:
Nobody cares where you’ve been
People outside the U.S. often like to hear what life is like there. Americans, owing to either a sense of superiority or disinterest, aren’t all that curious about what’s going on in Mamalikibooboostan.
This is why our Rolf Potts in Vagabonding emphasized that travel should be a personal decision, not to prove something to others. No one will care as much about your travels as you do.
I returned to the United States after five years of working and traveling in Asia. Like many, I was blindsided by the process of re-adapting. Here are some ways I’ve dealt with culture shock:
1) Use Skype. I still regularly chat with some of the close friends I’ve made while on the road. Talking to people with the same shared experiences has been a huge morale boost.
2) Make new friends. I’ve been active on Meetup.com, joining groups that match my interests.
Did you experience reverse culture shock when you returned home? Where had you been living and traveling before then? What did you do to cope? Please share your stories in the comments.