Returning home to one’s native culture after having lived overseas typically carries with it a period of adjustment, known as re-entry shock, or reverse culture shock. It results from the changes that have occurred during your time overseas, not just back in your home country, but more significantly, the personal changes you have experienced while living abroad. If you have been at Yale for an extended period of time, you likely experienced culture shock symptoms when you first arrived, but now you are at home here in New Haven; what was once quite unfamiliar and new has become comfortable and familiar. You have well established routines and a circle of friends, and all of the places where you work, study, do your shopping, seek out recreation or other aspects of daily living are well known and comprise what you now consider home. You have changed and adapted to your life in the U.S., which may understandably affect your return to your home country.
Re-entry Shock Symptoms
Like culture shock, the symptoms of re-entry shock can vary both in type and severity. Some individuals feel virtually no effects, while others may take months or even years to re-adjust and feel better. The important thing to remember is that the shock will fade with time, and everyone eventually adjusts and feels at home again.
- Harshly judging the home culture and focusing on everything that you don’t like.
- Feeling that the home culture will never be as good as the previous host culture.
- Feeling that you have changed and will never fit in.
- Feeling overwhelmed by having to start your life over, and/or thinking that it was a mistake to return.
- Experiencing symptoms of depression, such as excessive tiredness, trouble eating or sleeping, lack of interest in things you might enjoy, irritability and mood swings.
- Feeling upset with those around you who don’t seem to understand what you are going through.
Coping with Re-entry shock
- Familiarize yourself with the symptoms and be prepared for the possibility of an adjustment period.
- Talk to others who have been through it. What was it like? What did they do to help themselves feel better?
- Find a way to work with and assist international visitors. Start by inquiring at churches or civic organizations that may serve as hosts.