Reverse Culture Shock: How to Reconnect

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    While most of us expect a move abroad to be a transformative experience, moving back is rarely seen as a potential challenge.  But it can be, and it’s best to be prepared.  Make as much effort to return home as you did abroad: do your research, perfect your language, get in touch with the local community and prepare to grow personally.

    These steps can take different forms:

    Read local news and books in your native language

    Few things absorb the culture of a place as much as the written word.  Start reading newspapers, books and magazines in your native language, stay up to date with current events and expand your vocabulary.  This can help you get a “feel” for where you come from more quickly and provide you with easy topics of conversation with colleagues, friends and family.

    Watch TV and movies

    To “get used” to the sound and rhythm of your native language again, you can watch television and movies.  This will also help you improve your cultural understanding of your home country while keeping you entertained and distracted from the challenges of this transition period.

    Start conversations

    Reverse culture shock often leads to self-induced isolation.  One way to combat it is to start conversations with the people in your country.  Make it a routine to talk to someone every day and try to learn what life is like in your country through the personal experiences of your interlocutors.

    Write your thoughts

    Keep a journal or start a blog in your native language.  Writing regularly can not only help you regain language fluency more quickly, but it can also serve as a roadmap for the thoughts and feelings you’ve had since your return.  This can be very helpful when making the decision to move or stay.

    Participate in a language exchange program or cultural workshop

    Help yourself by helping others.  As you try to readjust to your life at home, some expats are newcomers to your country and you may feel as lost and insecure as you did when you left home.  Helping them in their new life in a place you call home can also bring you closer to truly feeling at home.

    Seek support in the local community

    When experiencing reverse culture shock, your first instinct may be to run away from social interactions, close off from family and friends, and be left alone with your thoughts.  But you may feel better if you surround yourself with people who have your interests in mind.  Whether it’s friends, family, or professional support communities, readjusting to your new “old” life is often better in good company.

    Enroll in a language review course

    If you have spent a lot of time abroad and are having trouble conveying your ideas effectively in your native language, a short language refresher course may be a good starting point.  In addition to regaining fluency in your native language, you will have extra time to readjust and possibly make new friends.

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