Reverse culture shock and how to deal with it


Everyone talks about culture shock. Heaps of books have been written about how to plan for it and websites dedicated to slowly transitioning into a culture where you perhaps don’t speak the language or aren’t used to the food or traditions. You spend months planning your big travels unaware of how completely changed you’ll be upon your return (if you choose to return, of course). Your adventure is more than accommodations, reservations, and experiences. It may depend on where, how and for how long, but regardless, travel changes a person. New perspectives happen, minds open, character flourishes and life as you know it begins to take on a new shape…. then your journey ends and you must return home. This is the part no one talks about.

After our first around the world trip, I came back looking exactly the same on the outside, yet on the inside I was completely changed. It was my first truly extended journey outside of the United States and I was given the chance to travel and interact with so many people from various cultures. After this trip I liked new foods, had different taste in clothing, used new vocabulary words, wrote the date differently and was already looking to change my circumstances at home to embrace more of a travel existence. The invisible changes were even stronger, yet I was the only one who knew about them. How do you fit back into the box everyone wants you to return to when there’s no way you can do so any longer? It’s hard to manage putting your new self back into that old life-you’re just not the same person anymore.

Now I know this difficulty has a name…reverse culture shock! Stepping back into that old life of yours and finding it hard, you’re not alone. Countless travelers experience this each year. You now view things very differently. Your world has been broadened, your senses sharpened, your mind blown wide open and your enlarged perspective on life is far greater than what it once was. Your reactions to day-to-day circumstances and situations are different and those around you who were not part of your journey are confused. Why are you acting differently? Why are your answers to simple questions vastly divergent from what they once were? Why are things so different?

You’re not alone in your struggles and you can’t fight the changes. Travelers the world over face this each time when returning home, while for some, the changes are even more drastic that they choose a greater travel existence over that ‘before travel home’. Searching out other travelers where you live who feel the same will help. What I can tell you is that it will get better and easier. Have patience with yourself; with time you will figure it all out. You’ll find your true self and where you now fit into your life ‘before travel’. You’ll begin to realize what and who you want in your life and cultivate new relationships that fit the ‘new you’. You will find a way to either work the new you into your old life or change your circumstances to create a new one. Life post travel will be different than that of pre-travel. The new you will find a way. Take a deep breath, keep pushing through, embrace the changes and know that since travel changed you…there’s no going back.


For more of Stacey’s musings, check out her writings on her blog.

Posted by | Comments (3)  | January 1, 2015
Category: Languages and Culture

3 Responses to “Reverse culture shock and how to deal with it”

  1. Kyle Says:

    nice points

  2. Stacey Ebert Says:

    Thanks so very much, Kyle. Glad you enjoyed the read. Cheers, Stacey

  3. astrid Says:

    I am a little bit afraid of coming home, because I think as well, that nothing will be like it was before. So we expand our travel as long as we can.