Tips for Reverse Culture Shock

The following are some tips to remember for re-entry. I’m going to have difficulty with 6 and 8.

  1. Prepare for the adjustment process. Anticipation and thought are useful.
  2. Allow yourself time. Give yourself time to relax and reflect upon what is going on around you, how you are reacting to it, and what you might like to change. Ease into the transition.
  3. Understand that the familiar will seem different. You will have changed, home will have changed, and you will be seeing everything from a new perspective. Expect to have some new emotional and psychological reactions to being home. Everyone does.
  4. There will be much “cultural catching-up” to do. You will discover unfamiliar changes that have occurred since you left. Most returnees report gaining major insights about themselves and their home country upon reentry.
  5. Reserve judgments. Try to resist the natural impulse to make snap judgments about people and behaviors back home. Mood swings are common; your most valuable and valid analysis of events is likely to take place after allowing some time for thorough reflection.
  6. Respond thoughtfully and slowly. Feelings of frustration, disorientation, and boredom may lead you to answer questions quickly and impulsively, which can be confusing to family and friends. Rehearse what you want to say and how you will respond to predictable questions and situations.
  7. Cultivate sensitivity. Reestablish rapport by showing an interest in what others have been doing while you have been on your adventure overseas. Much frustrations in returnees stems from what is perceived as disinterest by others in their experiences, and a lack of opportunity to express their feelings and tell their stories. Being a good listener is key to mutual sharing.
  8. Be aware of comparisons. Making comparisons is natural. However, be careful not to appear too critical of home or too lavish in praise of thins foreign. Maintaining a balanced perspective of good and bad features of both cultures can feel less threatening to others. Avoid the tendency to be an “instant expert.”
  9. Remain flexible. Attempting to reintegrate into old patters and networks can be difficult, but remaining aloof is isolating and counterproductive.
  10. Seek support networks. There are lots of people back home who have gone through their own re-entry and who understand a returnee’s concerns. You will ultimately integrate life overseas with life at home, appreciating both cultures for their own inherent worth. In doing so, you will be well on your way to the development of intercultural competence, on of the greatest rewards of study abroad.

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