You’ve had a great time backpacking across the world, meeting many fellow travelers from around the world, eating street food better than you’ve had back at home and chugging beers like it were water.
All good things, however, come to an end and it’s time to pick the backpack that held all your worldly possession for the past months and head back home.
Once home, it feels great to be back. To be with family who you have missed dearly, to be with friends to catch up on everything that you’ve missed and to finally have internet that doesn’t make you want to pull your hair out. You go to your favorite restaurant, take a walk along the streets you used to love and maybe even drop by at your favorite pub for a pint.
Days go by and you feel a sense of disquiet. It feels odd to be away from the golden beaches you left and to not hear the comfortable babble of a foreign language from the locals in the country you left behind. What was familiar before you left for travel does not seem familiar anymore.
The only time you feel better and in your element, now is when reading travel blogs or watching videos on distant lands you promise yourself to visit.
Reverse culture shock also known as re-entry shock is the term given to the integration difficulties experienced by those who return home after a significant amount of time abroad.
This to some is akin to the culture shock experienced when in a new culture as what was once familiar does not feel familiar due after having integrated into a different culture.
Reverse culture as per the opinions we’ve had from our veteran backpackers manifest in different ways.
1. You find yourself getting annoyed at the simplest things
Why is everything so expensive? Why is the food so bland? Why do people even work 9-5?
2. You find yourself not being able to relate
You’ve forgotten that while you were away traveling, everyone else had moved on too. They might not always be up for talking about your travels but about their lives revolving around kids, college and/or work.
3. You find being home infuriating
Staying still is becoming impossible and you find yourself itching to be on the road again. You feel sluggish and year to feel the weight of the backpack.
4. You find yourself feeling out of place and uncomfortable
Feeling out of place with people you know and love has you wondering whether there is something wrong with you.
What has to be understood is that reverse culture shock akin to the culture shock you experienced is completely normal and experienced by many who have spent extended periods of travel outside their familiar surroundings.
Reentry to a country that is familiar to you isn’t as hard as you think it is. What is important to remember is that it is a gradual process.
1. Become a tourist in your city
We tend to neglect the tourist attractions in our city or those close to us. Becoming a tourist in such locations for some is an excellent remedy for the restless the lack of travel can cause.
2. Don’t dwell
It’s great to look back on your travels but does not dwell on them. Look towards the future and understand that the first step to feeling comfortable with your surroundings is engaging with it.
3. Reconnect with your old friends
Call those you couldn’t keep in touch with and make an effort to meet them. Remember, home is not where you are but who and where you are comfortable with.
4. Find a hobby
Hobbies are great at taking your attention from dwelling in the past.
5. Connect with ex-pats
With social media, it is very easy to connect with ex-pats and exchange stories. You can even join in organizing tours of your city to connect with those traveling to your location.