REVERSE CULTURE SHOCK
Welcome Back! We hope that your
study abroad program provided you with unforgettable
experiences and invaluable memories. Right now you
may be feeling a variety of emotions while you adjust
to being back home, just as you experienced when you
first arrived overseas. We would like to help make
this transition a little easier by providing you
with information about Reverse Culture Shock or
Re-entry Shock. Research has shown that re-entry
shock is at least as frequent as initial culture
shock. It is therefore an inevitable part of your
study abroad experience and can lead to personal
growth and understanding.
What Is It?
Does it feel as though your friends and family
don't understand the importance of your experience
abroad? Do they ask questions about your time overseas,
but then seem to lose interest after only a few minutes? Does everyday life here seem trivial?
If these questions identify feelings you've been having
recently, you may be experiencing "reverse culture shock
". In the same way that you may have experienced culture
shock when you were adjusting to your new cultural surroundings abroad, you will now experience a re-adjustment period in the United States.
While you were abroad, you may have initially looked at
some local customs as silly and wondered why people there
did not "do things right" or do things "the American
way". Over time you probably lost some of these feelings
and began to feel that your host culture had even better
customs and ways of dealing with various situations
Americans. Now that you've returned to the U.S., you
may experience similar feelings, wondering why Americans
don't do things right or follow what you have now come
to believe as the correct way to deal with a situation.
Every individual deals with these feelings in a
different way. Some people want to be left alone by
everyone and allow interaction only with others who
were abroad with them. Others will want to tell everyone
they meet all about their experiences abroad! Some
returnees will have a difficult time finding anything
positive to say about the U.S., while others will
hardly feel out of place at all.
The real key to
re-entering your home culture is to realize that
there may be frustrations with readjusting to life
in the United States, and that the frustrations are
a normal part of the total learning process, and an
on-going part of your cross-cultural experience.
If friends, roommates or parents seem to be somewhat
mystified or bothered by your behavior once you're
back home, you may want to explain to them a little
about reverse culture shock and what you're
experiencing. Knowing what is happening and that there
is a process of adjustment can make you more understandable
to those close to you, and can help them to be more
supportive and understanding of what you're going through.