Reverse Culture Shock

Reverse Culture Shock may arise on re-entry into your home country after time abroad.  This usually arises because you expect to have familiarity upon your return home and you have an ideal image of how it will feel to return home.  Reverse Culture Shock occurs when one or both of these elements fall short of your expectations. You may find it difficult to see that many things have changed while you were away. 

Stages of reverse culture shock

  • Stage 1: Disengagement
    • This begins prior to leaving one’s host country.  The acts of packing and saying good-bye to one’s new friends and host families may leave one feeling sad and frustrated.
  • Stage 2: Initial Euphoria
    • This is the feeling of excitement associated with the idea of going home. This stage often ends when one realizes that one’s friends and family may not be as enthusiastic about his or her abroad experience as one hoped. 
  • Stage 3: Irritability and Hostility
    • Stage 3 usually begins when one realizes that family members are not as willing as one hoped to hear the endless stories one wishes to tell about his or her time abroad. This may lead to feelings of loneliness, frustration, anger, hopelessness, and alienation.  Many also struggle with the fact that they are not as independent at home as they were abroad. 
  • Stage 4: Re-Adjustment and Adaptation
    • Most people are able to enter stage 4 to begin to re-adjust to a new out-look on US culture and way of life.  This does not mean that one must forget all that he or she learned abroad, but one is able to adapt and apply these new ideas positively to his or her everyday life.

Additional resources for coping with reverse culture shock