"I'lllllllll be homeeeeeeeeee for Christmaaaaaaaaaassssss"
I'm HOME! Back in the Big Smoke, The Windy City, my heart and soul, Chicago, Chicago, that toddlin' town. It didn't hit me for a while that I was coming back, because I spent the past three weeks scrambling around trying to get my Christmas shopping done, finish school work, and take my last few trips for 2015. So when I touched down on American soil, the culture shock hit me more than ever.
I usually don't experience culture shock when coming back from abroad, and typically am able to mentally prepare myself well enough beforehand. But yesterday, I was completely disillusioned with everything! The American accents everywhere was so overwhelming, and it didn't occur to me that you're supposed to tip at a restaurant until I had already eaten out twice. I forgot about how wide the streets are, and how every house in the suburbs has a back yard. The fact that there's tax completely slipped my mind, and my first experience back in a grocery store was more than stressful.
Basically the point is, despite me thinking that I'm invincible from reverse culture shock, it is a real thing. You may come home expecting everything to be the same, everyone to have remained stagnant, for all your favorite stores and fads to be there. You may have an idea that you may be able to pick up right where you left off, but reality may not really meet those expectations. Because of this, home may feel foreign and different. You may feel sweeps of sadness or wishes to return to traveling. But luckily, reverse culture shock is only temporary, no matter how long it may seem to last. Here are some tips on how to deal with it.
Surrounding yourself with friends and family will help the transition to being back home much simpler. It may feel strange surrounding yourself with old friends, as so much has probably happened with them and you, that it probably can be overwhelming. but integrating yourself back into the swing of things can help diminish your feelings of missing out.
Keep in Touch
Keep in touch with people you've met on your travels! You may find your friends and family from home growing tired of hearing your travel stories. It's difficult to explain things to people who weren't there to experience them, and it may be frustrating for you. Sharing stories and keeping old memories alive with your travel friends will keep you sane.
Maintain Your Vibe
You may have changed while abroad (and you're likely to have changed), but try not to lose all the things you've learned and your new outlooks just to assimilate back into home culture. It may seem easier to integrate back into home life by ditching your new worldly self, but stand your ground! Try to find restaurants with foods similar to those you ate abroad. Speak with the same confidence you had when you were abroad. And don't back down!
Realize that Nobody Really Cares About Your Travels
This is the harsh reality that I hate to break, but it's true. You'd be shocked at how few people want to hear about how many places you've seen, how your heart has been healted, how you watched the sunset in Cappadoccia with an old drunk homeless man, or what it's like in Hong Kong during the summer. You may find this hard to believe, especially if you're like me and are always looking to learn about new travel experiences that you could be having, but 99% people just do not GAF. Unless someone asks, it's better to keep your mouth shut. And this sucks, and probably makes the culture shock even worse. When you're traveling, you have the luxury of surrounding yourself with likeminded people who WANT to hear about your travels. So it's a change when you have to go back to pretending as if you didn't just spend the last several weeks/months/years having the time of your life.
BUT! Don't take it personally. It's not that they're not interested in your life, it's that they just aren't interested in talking about it because it's difficult to understand if you haven't lived it. Imagine if someone tried to tell you a thousand stories of their chess tournament conquests. Unless you're deeply interested in chess, I'm sure it wouldn't be an interest to you.
Keep Looking for New Adventures
When you return home, if you're anything like me, you may feel stuck. I can't stand the feeling of sitting still, and when I'm home, I'm plagued by that feeling. It's much easier to travel around the world when you're not actually back at home. But that doesn't mean you have to cease adventuring. Keep your eyes posted for travel opportunities and deals even when you're at home! While it may not feel as exciting venturing around your home country or hometown, don't lose that glimmer in your eye.
Reverse culture shock IS temporary. While you may never shake your feeling to wander, eventually you will re-assimilate back into your home culture. Just be patient with yourself, surround yourself with people who love you, and wait it out.