We always hear about “culture shock”- the bizarre, temporary state of confusion and disorientation that occurs when you move abroad. But what about re-entry culture shock? Although this term is more neglected in conversations concerning immigration and moving abroad, re-entry culture shock is real. And just as moving abroad wasn’t easy, neither is returning home from months or even years away from your country…
1. Expectations: You finally get to speak your native language
Reality: You grammar is rusty and you can’t stop jumbling words
When you become accustomed to speaking another language- especially if you neglect your native language the entire time you’re abroad- you’re probably going to be surprised at how often you accidentally mix up the two. But hey, take this as just another reminder of your impressive multilingualism and the struggles you were able to overcome to achieve this feat!
2. Expectations: Your friends and family will be SO excited to see you and hear about your experiences
Reality: Your friends and family are less concerned about your difficulties adjusting to culture shock and more preoccupied with the ‘gifts’ you bought them
Ok, not that people won’t be excited to see you, but there are many things about living abroad that certain people just won’t get. Only people who have immigrated to another country or have lived abroad will understand what it’s really like. And not to mention, your friends and family are going to show way more enthusiasm at the gifts and souvenirs you brought them than your monologue about how you got stuck underground in the subway for two hours.
3. Expectations: Everyone will be so accepting of your new life
Reality: Not everyone has something nice to say about your decision…
Returning back home means having to deal with commentary by certain friends and family members who have something negative to say about your experiences. There will definitely be people who criticize you for leaving for such a long period of time, and even people that will dismiss you as a foreigner who isn’t apart of the community anymore. But just remember, their resentment says more about themselves than it does about you.
4. Expectations: No more frigid cold weather!
Reality: You forgot just how intense the sweltering heat and humidity in your native country really is
Remember seasons? Yeah, those don’t exist anymore. Also, having to readjust your entire wardrobe and closet to new weather is a very daunting task.
5. Expectations: You can’t wait to eat your favorite dish from home
Reality: Re-adjusting to the foods in your home country is harder than expected
If you lived off a diet of processed, fast foods in your new country, it’s going to be a shock returning to food made with locally-grown, fresh, organic ingredients. Of course, this definitely isn’t a bad thing, although it might be difficult having to re-adjust to a life without the convenience of the multi-million dollar fast food industry monopoly that exists in the states.
6. Expectations: You missed being able to navigate your hometown with ease and can’t wait to return to your old pace
Reality: The infrastructure and transportation modes have changed a lot since you’ve left…
Spending many months and years away from home can mean coming home to more advanced infrastructures and technological innovations. Of course, these advancements are always welcome. It just might be difficult having to re-adjust to a new pace of life in a country you’re so used to calling home.
What are some expectations you had about returning home that didn’t exactly pan out as you expected? Comment below!