The fact that reverse culture shock exists seems like a cruel joke. You are coming home; you were here before; why is it so hard to return? Depending on how long you’ve been away it can be harder to reconcile your memories, especially those rose-colored ones, with what has changed and realities back home. Not only that, your experiences overseas have changed you – some of the expectations of those you left behind are also different. How can you use your expat expertise to help you repatriate?
1. Use your Networks to get over Culture Shock: Staying in touch with family and friends is often the support network you used as you embarked on the journey overseas. Get back in touch and visit those folks now that you have some proximity or have them come visit! Alternatively, use the support network in your most recent home abroad to help you adjust – they are more likely to be interested in those small revelations you have as you adjust to life back home – things that may seem less significant to those that have been living here.
2. Be a Host to Expats in Your Home Country: You are coming back with some significant advantages over other expats – you have language skills and some cultural skills, rusty as they may feel. Use those skills to help others going through culture shock. Navigating culture shock may have a lot of similarities to your reverse culture shock, sharing that with new expats makes them feel less uncomfortable and may help you as you struggle to overcome some of the same things. You can do this through schools that host exchange students, through your companies programs, through a church or immigration facility, or even an organization like InterNations.
3. Blend your Experiences – Preserve the Old, Create New: Part of the challenge in coming back is missing your hard won comfort with your life abroad and dealing with certain challenges you didn’t expect back home. Why not bring back the “spice of life” from your experiences abroad and blend them with something in the U.S.? Perhaps host a dinner party where you teach some friends how to cook from your most recent destination. Maybe you can find a place that teaches the dance in the country you just came from and find others who’ve experienced similar travel. Figure out what you enjoyed or found you loved overseas and see how to bring it into your life in your home country (inclu