I know lots of us are preparing to go back home right now. While reconnecting with your childhood places and close people in your life is exciting, being back home after months and months abroad can be very challenging.
And I understand you very well! I have gone through culture shock three times already: after living in the U.S., India, and China – all very different mentalities from mine. We might think that the way people interact in society is something to be frustrated about, but even food, smells, climate, and local music can add up layers of confusion and strong feelings when you are taken out of one environment and thrown to another. I am preparing myself to transition back to the home and this is what helps me.
Knowing this will pass
You already know how culture shock follows a U-curve pattern (more in this article), which we spoke already about when we just arrived at AtlasCorps. Also, it is explained in a book by Craig Storti “The Art of Coming Home” (here we go, perfect airplane read!). What is even better is that you have already gone through culture shock! I am sure we all can name things we were getting used to in the U.S. For example, I was very frustrated with unanswered “How are you?” and that the tax is not included in the price right away! But we all got used to it, didn’t we?
Using meditation techniques to detach yourself from feelings and just observe them is a very helpful skill to develop. Learn to except the time of being confused, sad, and missing things you were used to. This is all temporary! I allow myself to feel whatever emotion overwhelms me, not reacting to it but just observing it without trying to fight it. One of my favourite accounts on Instagram called “We’re Not Really Strangers” just posted a great quote as I was writing this post: “It’s okay to be sad. Overwhelmed with uncertainty. Anxious. Tired. Unmotivated. Whatever you’re feeling is alright. Let yourself feel it. Find the lesson. Things will get better.”
Focus on positive things
Of course, it is easier said than done but our brains are incredible and you can train yourself to avoid certain emotions. Feelings don’t need to rule you! You have to make a conscious choice to be happy. What I mean is that you have to push yourself out of the house, go out and do things you always liked to do. Go and treat yourself to your favourite food, does not have to be local! You can embrace and enjoy the foreign spots in your neighbourhood. Meet your friends and family if you like them, they want to hear your experiences! Seek out new experiences! This is why you moved abroad, being back can be a great opportunity to feel the passion for your country and culture and re-introduce yourself to it. There is something positive in any place on the planet!
Be kind to yourself and others – this is great remedy for any situation. Here is another article with some more ideas and reflections on reverse culture shock you can read about: “5 steps to deal with reverse culture shock” from GVI.
Lastly, stay in touch with our beautiful AtlasCorps community! 🙂