Reverse culture shock can be scary, especially if you are not prepared for it. So what is it exactly? Well, reverse culture shock is when travelers expect to pick up where they left off when they return to their home country. I am sorry to say that it doesn’t always happen like that. Whether you like it or not, you were forced to adapt to a new culture while abroad. You have picked up different cultural tendencies, and now your home country may seem foreign. You may have even liked this foreign culture, or even just aspects of it, better than your own. Shocking, right?
If this has happened to you, it is a great sign that you are not ethnocentric! You have broken the mold of the American culture, and that is okay. So upon returning, you just might experience reverse culture shock. This is usually due to travelers reexamining priorities, values and examining their own American culture. Upon returning, you may have idealized your home country while abroad, and expected to be familiar with the culture.
The great thing about experiencing other cultures is the ability for it to open your eyes to an entire world outside of the United States. Reverse culture shock is normal, so how do you deal with it? This should be familiar to you, because you will essentially go though the same four stages I described of cultures shock, but upon re-entry into your home country. You will experience the honeymoon phase of being home, then frustration due to the new-found differences at home, gradual adjustment and finally biculturalism.
Hopefully after reverse culture shock you do not forget everything you had learned while traveling. Treat those new found cultural experiences as gems, because you are lucky to have lived and experienced something outside of your comfort zone. Please follow me on twitter @lizprovasi to learn more about culture and international business!