Reverse Culture Shock is an issue that affects us all at some point, and yet most people don’t even know it exists. Experienced differently by everyone, it can take many forms.
How it affects me:
One hour after disembarking the plane and I’m being horrible to everyone, even my boyfriend whom has so kindly picked me up from the airport. Before I left the hostel I text him… “Miss you, can’t wait to see you xxxx” and I really had missed him. So why am I being so miserable? This is more than holiday blues.
This reaction is one that I am not only becoming increasingly aware of, but one that I am constantly working towards rectifying. No matter where I go, no matter how far, or for how long I get this feeling. Reverse Culture Shock sucks.
What is it?
Returning from a place where the culture and way of life is different puts your normal every day life under the microscope. Even if your travel destination wasn’t actually that different from your home town, the change of scenery, food, style, living etc. can have an impact on your positive thoughts towards home. Some will react with sadness, others will close themselves off to others around them, you may become returned traveller that tells everyone that “they’re doing everything wrong” or that they’re “using too much water”. All of these reactions are normal, and they don’t all occur as soon as the plane hits home soil.
When does it happen?
You may never experience these feelings, you might feel them straight away. You could even be sat watching Fashion Week 5 months after your return when you suddenly realise it’s just not as important to you as it used to be.
How I get over it:
For me I have a clear plan of action.
- Unpack my bags as soon as I get home – No matter how tired I am it is necessary for me to put it all away. This way, it means I don’t need to be bogged down with unpacking, washing, sorting and everything else wind-down related over the next few days. Instead I can focus on the fun stuff , like giving souvenirs.
2. Travel Journals – Collect all the receipts, postcards, tokens and, spare leaflets that I have from my trip and putting it in my travel journal. Each place I visit has it’s own section. Within each section are all the items I need to remember my travels in a fun and interesting way.
3. Make sure that all of my photos have already been shared before I get home – For me,sharing my photos is important. This is because I would rather show people than tell people about what I saw and what I got up to. I’m not sure why or if this is even an important part of my returning home experience, but it is definitely something that I try and stick to.
4. Contact – For me contact is important. If I’ve been somewhere on my own then I find that staying connected with the people I met on my travels is important. Where I’ve travelled with another person I find it important to recollect on our shared experience. (This can be particularly difficult if the other person deals with returning home by shutting down.)
5. Plan my next trip – Whenever I get back from somewhere you can guarantee that within the week I will have mentally planned my next destination. During our annual April bonding venture my mum turned to me and asked “Where are we off to next April then?”. I guess I know where the coping mechanism comes from!
Reverse Culture Shock is important to recognise, both for you as a returning traveller and for those around you. The last thing you need is to return home and get everyone riled up with your judgement or miserable attitude.
Look after yourself and always remember the good times!