Reverse culture shock is the worst part of any year abroad
And you thought the hardest thing would be leaving home
Before you embark on a year abroad, you’ll inevitably attend the obligatory department meetings where the international office give all the warnings about keeping your wits about you on foreign soil.
You’re told that it’s only normal to feel home-sick and experience discomfort while adjusting to a new set of customs and the uni promises to have your back during any time of need while you’re out of the country.
But what is arguably twice as crucial, and certainly far more worth being warned about, is the re-adjustments you have to make upon returning home.
Going abroad, you’re essentially on a year-long holiday with the added bonus of actually learning at a foreign institution. It’s lols a minute and the novelty never really wears thin. Every week you’re meeting new, exciting people and travelling to new, exciting places and the whole experience is intensely overwhelming.
And though it goes by quickly, without even realising you become totally immersed in your new lifestyle, often to the point that you can’t recall what you did or what you were like before it. The place you were just going to do your required year abroad for some credits has become a home away from home.
Except, home seems distant and so much less exciting at the end of your year-abroad, that the readjustments you have to make when you’re thrown back into final year at your significantly less exciting uni, are actually pretty hard to make progress with. Reverse culture shock is a very real thing and anyone who has spent a year trying to soak up a new country will know that all the things you thought you would miss at home (roast dinners, the pub, normal cups of tea…) just aren’t as hard to get over as the things you leave across the pond.
You will sound like a broken record, going on and on about what you were doing ‘this time last year’ and eventually those around you will get fed up of hearing how you wouldn’t have been caught dead at home on a thirsty Thursday while abroad, despite now being in the library drowning in books instead of booze.
And obviously you don’t want to sit around moping and feeling sorry for yourself that you’re back to finish the degree you chose to start, but all of these TMB feels can lead to a sense of isolation.
Following the initial excitement of returning and being reunited with friends and family, things will seem very slow and dare you say boring. It’s a bit like limbo; not really feeling at home here anymore, but also knowing that where you spent your year abroad is no longer home either.
You were a fun, free and independent traveller who is now sat writing a dissertation, but the key is to just suck it up and throw yourself into as much of what’s going on at your home uni.
Besides, you’ve got all the memories and some sick insta’s.