Navigating Reverse Culture Shock

How to manage reverse culture shock.

The Caraway Care Team

November 16, 2023

Reverse Culture Shock

You just returned home from your trip abroad and now have to re-adjust to things being different, just like when you first left. Reverse culture shock is totally normal. Here are the four stages, what to look out for, and how to navigate the transition back home.

Phases of reverse culture shock

Stage 1: Disengagement. While you were overseas, you might have begun to think about moving back home and moving away from your experience and the friends you made abroad.

Stage 2: Initial euphoria. You may initially be very excited to return home, and your family and friends will be excited you're returning. You'll have the chance to experience all the things you missed while away, and your family and friends will be excited to see you and hear all about your travels. 

Stage 3: Alienation. You no longer have that euphoric feeling and may feel alienated and frustrated. You may even feel like an outsider in your own country and critical of your own culture. You may feel like no one really wants to hear about your experience or can relate to it.

Stage 4: Gradual Readjustment. The shock of returning home will gradually decline, and you'll be able to cope better, especially with the tools below.

Managing transition

Here are some steps you can take to navigate the transition back home.

  1. Stay in contact with friends you met abroad. There are so many ways to stay connected. Pick your favorite and stick to it!
  2. Make a blog,  journal, or photo album as a way to express and process your feelings about the trip. You can share it with others, but you don't have to—it's allowed to be something special just for you.
  3. Find ways to make your daily routine more exciting at home (getting back into old routines may seem boring, but try to find the joy in them). 
  4. Find ways to continue developing the skills you started learning abroad (examples: art, music, and language).
  5. Give yourself time and permission to rest and process your time abroad. Try not to be hard on yourself, and give yourself time to adjust. Remind yourself that what you're going through is common and normal and that it will pass.

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