How to deal with reverse culture shock

What is reverse culture shock? Well, you’ve completed your internship abroad. It took a while for you to settle in but you persevered and nailed it. You created a network of international, professional contacts, discovered a brand new country and made friends that will last a lifetime. You’ve done the hard part, right? Not necessarily.

 

What is reverse culture shock?

The exciting and overwhelming experience of living and interning in a foreign country marks you permanently. And when you’re spending months of your life traveling and exploring a new country, you get used to feeling out of your element and experiencing new things at every moment. Even though it’s a breath of fresh air when you get home and you feel relieved to be on your own turf, it’s natural to feel a bit estranged. Your lifestyle and surroundings have changed once again.

 

When you go abroad, it’s a shock. It’s so different, but our human brains are so advanced, we’re able to quickly adapt, survive and thrive in this new place. Suddenly, what is strange and foreign becomes the norm. When we go back home, even though it’s familiar, it’s still different to this international experience that has become the norm. This adjustment back to “normal” is reverse culture shock. Some people feel it more deeply than others.

 

what is reverse culture shock

 

5 ways to deal with reverse culture shock

 

1. Bring the culture back with you

You can cook dishes or foods from the country you interned in to get a literal taste of being abroad. Keep speaking the foreign language you were learning abroad. Try to find a local TV show to watch, or something to get your dose of abroad while you’re adjusting back home.

2. Keep pushing yourself out of your comfort zone in different ways

You’ve been used to exploring, activating new parts of your brain and soaking in a lot of new information. This can be both exciting and addictive, so find ways to have adventures back home by venturing outside your comfort zone. Pick up a new hobby or take a class that’s always interested you. The sky’s the limit!

 

what is reverse culture shock

 

3. Talk about it

Start a group Whatsapp or Facebook group with friends you made abroad and talk about your adventures. If you have other friends in university who went abroad, swap your stories with them.

4. Plan your next trip

You’ve had a wonderful time abroad… so when are you going back? Think about future travels and what will be your next international adventure.

5. Read

Reading literature from the country in which you interned is a great way to stay connected to the lifestyle and culture. Local movies and TV shows are also useful tools to connect you to your foreign destination.

 

Learn more about how to boost your career with an international internship.

 

Sources:

Photos

1. based on Surprised, by Jason Pratt, CC-by-2.0

2. based on Central Market, Hong Kong, by Dora Hon, CC-by-ND 2.0

3. based on Kitchen talk, by Toms Baugis, CC-by-2.0

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Elizabeth Trovall

After short stints in Argentina and Belize, Elizabeth is finishing up her fourth year in Santiago, Chile. Elizabeth writes about international internships, life abroad and professional development for The Intern Group. She also reports on politics, business and culture in Latin America for public radio and print media. An Austin, Texas native, Elizabeth first left home to earn her journalism degree from the Reynolds Institute of Journalism at the University of Missouri. Besides her friends and family, she misses live music and Mexican food the most.

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