As per usual this has become more of a monthly posting but hopefully since I’m back from studying abroad (for now 😉 ), I am looking to post more frequently than before!
Speaking of study abroad, it has been almost a month since I left the fantasy life of the study abroad world and reacclimatizing myself to my old life again has been far from easy. Yes, it has been amazing to feel the sun again and see all my wonderful friends who I have dearly missed the past five months but reverse culture shock is a thing…and it hit me hard. One of my favorite authors of all times, F. Scott Fitzgerald, sums up exactly the feeling of reverse culture shock. He says: “It’s a funny thing coming home. Nothing changes. Everything looks the same, feels the same, even smells the same. You realize what’s changed is you.”
Reverse culture shock (RCS) is something that is talked about at my University and is something that is known to occur but being the stubborn person I am, I didn’t attend any resources that my school provides and I regrettably decided to take on healing myself on my own, but through it all I have learned the key aspects about embracing the changed you from studying abroad and tackling RSC.
Here are the 3 things to take away and to learn from experiencing RCS:
1- Accepting the new mind set
How much I matured in the five months abroad blows my mind. I didn’t think traveling like that would for me, especially since I have traveled abroad multiple times for periods up to two or three months. Everyone says you learn who you are studying abroad but it is more that that. You learn more about the world and you learn how to see things differently in your own life. You simply grow, and you start graving that growth. You start to understand ways of approaching life that you never really expected before. It’s hard coming back with that new mindset because everything seems to not have changed and you have, which makes you feel complelty alone at times and even has you reconsider the choices you are making currently. But trust me you aren’t alone. Learn to embrace that new mind set and search for others similar in that mind frame to express those feelings with. Search for ways to exercise how you have grown and become one with the new person you have become. You are a different you and that’s okay. The old you is still there but now you are just a better enhanced version of your old self, and you are a rock star.
2- Embracing your next life steps
Coming back from abroad felt like I was taking two steps back in my life. I felt like I went to Europe figured out more about myself, became excited about my future and the things I want to accomplish, that coming back literally felt like I was walking backwards instead of forwards. It took me a few weeks to come to the understanding that accepting this current step in my life is key to succeeded in my steps I want to take in the near future. Coming back, especially since I still go to college, is a privilege. It is a limbo stage in life but a good one, and soon it will all be gone. It may not be the next step in my future but it’s essential to my education and essential in achieving those goals right after graduation. Since, graduation is approaching sooner than anyone expects, I need to become one with the moments I have left at my beautiful college, even if textbook learning isn’t my thing. Soon I will miss the entire experience and will regret if I don’t enjoy it now. So it’s okay to dream about your future and the things you want to tackle but don’t forget to be present in the moment and enjoy the life you live. The things you are doing now are steps in achieving those goals in the future, and should be enjoyed.
3- It’s okay to cry but find those things that make you happy again
Being back is hard. Germany became my home for five months, and unintentionally France became a huge part of my life too. I miss being abroad more than anything. I miss the people. I miss the culture. I miss the entire atmosphere of it. Which is why one can’t be ashamed to cry and moan the ending of that chapter. The good thing though, is that another chapter has begun and filling that chapter with things that bring you life and laughter are key in surviving RCS. It’s okay to grief being gone because it is a natural healing process but turn that grievance into creating a scrapbook or talking to people you met abroad and reminiscing about the time. Also knowing the next time you will be back or knowing that soon you will make an effort to go back is key to surviving.
I deliberately started searching again for things that make me happy. I started volunteering again. I started to invest myself again in my blog because I know writing makes me happy. I also started visiting Disneyland again because I know it never fails to put a smile on my face. I crafted letters to the ones abroad and crafted a collage in my room of fond memories to never forget. It has helped establish happiness here and helps me live for something each day.
Overall, understanding that reverse culture shock is a thing and understanding how to overcome it is key in to integrating yourself back into your old life. Being back doesn’t mean your adventures are over in your life, it can sometimes mean they are just put to a halt. But enjoy every moment that you get and just know that you experienced an experience that have changed you a lifetime.
P.S. If there are any questions, comments, thoughts feel free to share with me! I am always have an open ear to hear about experiences and am always wanting to learn
P.S.S Post to look forward to in the next few weeks! My abroad travels in London and an open love letter to the one who taught me to love again.