Reverse Culture Shock
Are you ready to move back to your home country?
As you finish your time at KU, it is time to prepare to return to your home country! Returning to your home country can be as exciting and difficult as your transition to life at KU. By planning for departure, evaluating your expectations of your new life at home, and preparing for the emotional difficulties of the transition, you can make your return home easier. One important step in making your return home easier is by preparing for reverse culture shock.
‘Reverse culture shock’ is similar to the ‘culture shock’ you felt when you first came to KU. When you first encountered American culture, values and habits, you may have felt culture shock as you became used to your life at KU. When you return to your home country, you may experience difficulty as you re-encounter the culture, values and habits of people at home. The difficulty adjusting back to your home culture is called ‘reverse culture shock.’
Reverse culture shock is a common problem for international students. Research indicates that about 70% of students experience ‘reverse culture shock’ as they readjust to their lives in their home country. Experiencing reverse culture shock can cause problems in your daily life, such as academic problems, communication difficulties, anxiety, and depression. Fortunately, there are many strategies for preparing for, recognizing, and coping with reverse culture shock to make the transition easier!
You can prepare yourself for culture shock before you leave KU by:
- Remembering what you have accomplished during your time at KU. What specific events happened that changed your experience at KU? How much have you changed while at KU?
- Thinking about your expectations for home. How do you think your friends and family may have changed while you were at KU? Has the political situation in your country changed? What are you looking forward to when you return home? What are you worried about when you return home?
- Take pictures of campus, buy souvenirs of Kansas, and say goodbye to your friends. You may want to give your new contact information and email address to your friends, or invite them to follow you on social media such as through Facebook, WhatsApp, LINE, Instagram, or LinkedIn.
Although research suggests that most students will experience reverse culture shock when they return home, all students will experience culture shock differently.
After a few weeks at home, many people experience:
- Changed relationships with family members or friends
- Value confusion
- Sense of loss
- Compulsive fears
These feelings can continue for days, weeks, or even months. For some students, the effects of reverse culture shock does not cause any problems, but for others it leads to severe problems at work, school and at home.
If you experience reverse culture shock, there are a number of strategies you can use to help overcome the effects.
Use the techniques that helped you overcome culture shock when you arrived in America. What did you do to get used to life at KU? Usually the same technique will work for you for reverse culture shock!
Talk with the friends you made at KU through email, letters, or social media. Frequently communicating with your friends can help will feelings of loneliness, isolation, and alienation.
Find, join (or create!) an international organization in your home town. Participating in an international organization will give you the chance to use the international communication skills you learned at KU. You will also be able to help any international people visiting your home country by sharing your experiences with them!
Find things that remind you of your life at KU that you can include in your life at home, such as listening to your favorite American music or television show.
Do your old favorite hobby, or try a new hobby! Maintain good health through exercise and a good diet and find time to relax!
Remember, just like culture shock when you came to KU, reverse culture shock is only temporary. Experiencing reverse culture shock is normal for international students. If you experience reverse culture shock, it means you are getting used to your new life at home! After you are used to your life at home, the effects of reverse culture shock will disappear over time.
For further reading, check out the links below:
- Reverse Culture Shock Handout ( pdf file)
- Reverse Culture Shock-U.S. Department of State
- International and Immigrant Students: Plan for Cultural Adjustments When Leavng the U.S. - Johnson County Community College
- Dealing with reverse culture shock-University of Saskatchewan
- Returning Home-Internationalstudent.com