Returning home after being abroad

Reverse culture shock, according to Investopia:

“The shock suffered by some people when they return home after a number of years overseas. This can result in unexpected difficulty in readjusting to the culture and values of the home country, now that the previously familiar has become unfamiliar.”

What are you looking at…


You just returned from a place that is very different. The language, the customs, the way of living… and now you’re “home.” But if it’s “home,” then how come I feel so… out of place?

Reverse culture shock affects everyone differently, but there are different transition stages that might help shed some light on what you’re experiencing:




Phase 1

In the beginning, being back home is an adventure. You are finally able to eat all those foods you have been craving.  You can speak the same language as everyone, read signs, and best of all – you can catch up with all your friends.

Yum! Korean street food


Phase 2

Unfortunately, the “honeymoon” phase does not last forever. It’s great to be back, but you slowly realize that people’s lives went on without you. It seems like the world changed, but it’s actually you who changed through your experience. You start to see that people expect you to be the same person as you were before. After all, it’s only been a year (or two), right?

Not only do you have to juggle people’s expectations, but you find yourself becoming… bored. Remember how you used to walk outside, and there was always something new to look at? Bus rides and subway rides were exciting?Even grocery shopping was fun?  It starts to dawn on you that those simple adventures that are a part of everyday life overseas do not take place at home.

You share your experiences with people around you, yet they reply with snarky comments about how you’re bragging. Showing off. “It was just a year or two of your life,” and people don’t seem to be interested. All the while, you keep thinking – “Exactly! It was an ENTIRE YEAR! So much happened!” Ibn Battuta once said: “Traveling: it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” It doesn’t help if no one is there to listen. It helps to find others who’ve lived overseas. Joining Meetups in your area can be a great place to start.

Just as traveling became a part of your life, make sure you remember that having a family, for example, became part of your friends’ lives. You want them to listen to your stories, so return the favor and listen to their stories, too.

Returning home after being abroad

Phase 3

This is up to you. Returning home after being abroad won’t be the easiest thing to do, so find people with similar interests, go explore your hometown, and try out those traditional Korean restaurants in your area… they might just surprise you! And above all, find a jimjilbang. Trust us. A good jimjilbang is therapeutic on a bad day.

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