I started writing this post a few weeks ago and scheduled it for today, but this week I’ve seen so many posts on reverse culture shock! It’s clearly a topic that is very relevant right now. Here’s my take on it…
When I first found blogs about expats living all around the world, I came across multiple posts that discussed reverse culture shock. It never even had crossed my mind that there was such a thing. I thought I was being nostalgic and spoiled and difficult. I thought I was irrational. I thought it was all because of the Post St Andrews depression (yeah I’m pretty sure that’s a thing).
I have read that in some cases “Reverse Culture Shock” can be harder to get through than the normal culture shock we experience when arriving in a new country. The logic is simple, we don’t expect to have a shock when coming ‘home’.
I had always dreamed of living in the UK (I blame Harry Potter), and attending St Andrews was like a dream: amazing education, a picturesque setting, crazy experiences and traditions and meeting some of the best people ever. I was planning on staying in the UK after my degree, so coming home was hard. It’s getting used to the weather again (-40 anyone?), it’s getting reacquainted with the money (there are no pennies anymore?), finding friends who have moved on (literally moved away, getting married, etc.), perhaps getting your old job back and feeling like, despite having lived that amazing experience, you’re back and stuck in the past. People will understandably stop being interested by your stories that start with ‘When I lived abroad…’ People might even expect you to be the same as when you left. You also might expect people to be the same as when you left. Things go from ‘new experiences and fascination’ to ‘total normality’. It’s all hard to cope with.
In retrospect, I find that coping with culture shock and reverse culture shock is almost the same. Here are some tips:
– Stay in touch with people from where you just left.
– Don’t become a recluse. Open yourself up to opportunities. It’ll distract you!
– Make new friends/see your friends. Get your butt out there! You’ll feel much better for it!
– Don’t dwell too much on the past (yes I know I can’t follow my own advice…).
– Talk about it to people who are in the same situation, you’ll see you aren’t alone.
– Talk about it to anyone who wants to listen (a shrink, a parent, a dog).
– Take some ‘me’ time. Focus on something you love. Read. Bake. Blog. Something.
– Sometimes all we need is a good cry. Never be embarrassed of that.
– Eat chocolate (I mean it works for Dementors…).
I’ve been home for 6 months now and I found that the best way to cope is to keep in touch with people. I’m still in contact with so many people (although the more people the harder it is) from my time in St Andrews. Most of the friends who studied with me in St Andrews and have now moved back home feel the exact same thing as me so when I talk to them I feel much less alone. I know that what I’m feeling is normal!
I have just read that one way to cope is to start a blog! Well I’m doing something right apparently! I did start the blog in order to have an outlet to discuss my ‘When I lived abroad..’ stories. It also allows me to look back on things that I’ve done and be so proud of it all. Thanks for reading everyone! It means a lot!xx
Have a wonderful weekend! Until next week xx