Home sweet home? Or the challenges of returning home?
As I know a lot of you guys following this page soon will be or already are home, I think you should read this.
As you return home, you are likely to experience some very similar, but possibly surprising reactions that are part of what is known as reverse culture shock, or re-entry shock. In the first few weeks back, many people feel the effects of jet lag, general exhaustion from lots of changes, fatigue from an overdose of “welcome home” hugs and parties and trying to do and see everything and everyone at once. This flurry of activity can cause a significant degree of disorientation, making it difficult to tell exactly what thoughts and feelings you are having. Mixed in with all of this are two distinct and often conflicting reactions. One is the same excitement stage as in initial culture shock. It may be very exciting to be back, to see family and friends, to tell about your adventures and to do things you have missed for a year. If this reaction occurs, it fairly quickly wears off, and is replaced by the second stage of culture shock – irritability and hostility. This stage often comes much more quickly than in initial culture shock, and can be much more severe and disturbing. It also may be the first reaction you have to coming home, with no excitement stage at all.
Just as studying abroad demanded a number of lifestyle changes, so too does returning home. Ideally, the person you are now returning from abroad is not the same person who left in the first place. You have been transformed intellectually and personally, and have successfully functioned in a culture entirely different from your own. You have new habits, values, and ideas, sometimes without even realizing it!
Family, friends, and neighbors may find it difficult to comprehend the changes you have been through, and may expect you to be the same person that left. But you are not! It can be difficult for them to understand your whole transformative experience, and you may find it hard to balance fulfilling old roles and breaking in new ones. This strain and stress can sometimes invoke a sense of helplessness or a loss of identity.
It’s not all as bad as it sounds. As long as you have an understanding of what you’re going through, it’s safe to say that not only will you push through these confusing and difficult times, but will in fact come out on top!