The first time I experienced what experts call “Reverse Culture Shock” was after returning from a Year Abroad Program in
I don’t think there is really any way to describe this feeling to those who haven’t experienced it themselves. What is it exactly that causes us to feel this way? Why is it more pronounced when living in a different country than just living in a different city? Does the degree of difference between our home country and the target country determine the level of change we will feel when returning?
Many descriptions of Reverse Culture Shock describe it as part of a continuum whereby eventually we’ll feel at home again in the
The joy of having spent time in another country is that you slowly become a part of it and one of its people. Our attention to detail is heightened and we make a concerted effort to understand and fit in until we become one with our new location. What I have seen and felt and heard and smelled in each of the places I have lived has made me who I am, like a wine picking up its surrounding elements.
I would never want the clocks to be turned back to the person I was before I set foot on that first airplane. Instead, what I want more than anything is to have my favorite elements from each country right here with me now. I want to have an Irish pub around the corner here in
But I can’t stop there… I want to have my favorites from
Ultimately what I have lost in hometown comfort I have gained in international comfort. Where once boarding an airplane was an amazing feat and arriving in another country 10 hours later unthinkable, I now feel a sense of familiarity when we are snuggled down into our seats for our long flight. I have a pretty good idea of the sequence of events whereby we will get from here to there and cherish the chance to head to my “other home” of
This first appeared as an essay in our February newsletter: www.biculturalfamily.org/newsletterfeb06.html