Can You Survive Reverse Culture Shock?

Everybody knows about experiencing culture shock when you visit a country with different customs, cuisine or language. But sometimes the worst culture shock of all comes when you return home. Reverse culture shock is the name people give to that feeling of not fitting in to your home country, and you’re especially at risk of it if you return home after living abroad for an extended time.

The best way to beat reverse culture shock is to be aware of how it might strike. Here are a few of the experiences you could expect to have once you return home:

Nobody Cares About Your Travels

Really, you’ll be surprised how few people show even the slightest bit of interest in the life-changing trip or stint abroad you’ve just returned from. If you’re the kind of person who loves to travel a lot, you might have trouble understanding this, because you’re probably the exception to the rule. I’m the exception who always asks to see everybody’s holiday photographs and get the rundown on the kinds of places they stayed in and any interesting people they met.

Basically, until someone asks, just keep your exciting experiences to yourself. You might be lucky enough to have a like-minded friend or two, or a mother like mine who would be interested in my experiences no matter what they were — take advantage of these people and share some of the interesting tales you have with them, but be careful not to overload them. You might need them to still be listening when you return from your next big overseas jaunt.

And a corollary to this: don’t take it personally when people you know and care for have no idea what you’ve been doing all this time. I’ve lost count of the number of people who introduced me to other friends as someone who’d just returned from teaching in Slovenia, or Czechoslovakia … hadn’t they read the dozens of emails I sent from Slovakia? The difference was absolutely clear to me, and I felt almost insulted on behalf of my Slovak friends, but I learned that I wasn’t going to be the one who would change the world. I did correct them, though — gently.

Bored Traveler in Window

Normality Will Hit Hard

Once you’ve drunk your favorite coffee again or visited the best CD shop in your neighborhood, the routine normality of home could hit you hard. While you were living or traveling abroad, even mundane everyday tasks might have seemed a bit more exotic or interesting, but at home, going to the supermarket is not a place where you’ll find a dozen new foods. And if home is a place you lived most of your life, you probably won’t find any incredible historic attractions that you don’t know about, either.

Every time I’ve returned from long periods abroad in countries where I didn’t speak the language well, one thing that really hit me is how tedious it is to hear everyday conversations in a language you understand well. Hearing people discuss how long it takes to get to the next bus stop or complaining about their partner not putting the toilet seat down sounds a whole lot more interesting in a foreign language.

People Just Won’t Understand You

It’s a pretty common thread that people who have spent an extended time abroad tend to come home with some new opinions. Usually — hopefully — these come along with a big dose of open-mindedness and a heightened interest in other cultures. But for your friends or colleagues who haven’t left your homeland, these kinds of issues just won’t have the priority that they do for you.

Take this as an example. On a short trip back home in between jobs on different continents, someone I knew asked me: “How do you be friends with somebody who doesn’t speak English as a first language?” They already had trouble grasping how I could teach English to Japanese people when I couldn’t speak their language, but when I told them that people like these had become good friends of mine, their understanding completely failed them.

And Some Might Be Jealous

Be careful not to drop your travel tales into too many conversations. After traveling pretty widely, I know I’m guilty of this at times, and there is a clear reaction from some people if I begin a story with “When I was on the Trans-Siberian …”, which seems like one of jealousy. Not everybody has the same opportunity as you to travel abroad, but they might want to — so be sensitive about who you discuss your experiences with.

Worst of All, You Might Feel Stuck

I’d lived in Europe and Asia for six years and taken probably a dozen short trips a year to different countries and regions. In Europe, budget airlines made it affordable to literally fly to Paris for the weekend. When I returned to Perth, the most isolated city on earth, getting away to see something different became much more difficult, and a whole lot more expensive.

Bored on the Couch
© Lex in the City

Just as I was feeling the most depressed about being back home, my best friend in Germany rang up to ask advice on how she should celebrate her upcoming big birthday. “I’m trying to decide between going to New York or renting a house in Tuscany.” I knew she was serious and that from her base in Germany, where I used to live too, these ideas didn’t sound at all outlandish. But from here in the bottom corner of the southern hemisphere they sounded sky high impossible. In case you’re interested, she chose Tuscany.

Can You Survive Reverse Culture Shock?

My reverse culture shock was so bad on visits home while I lived overseas that I wondered if I could ever return to Australia. Eventually, I met and married a German who convinced me that we should give it a go. And it’s turned out fine, but not without some reverse culture shock.

For me, the best way to deal with all of these problems is to ensure the world around me is both multicultural and supportive. I’ve gone out of my way to make friends with people who speak the languages I’ve picked up, or who have had similar experiences living abroad. That makes all the rest of the crazy reactions and fears of normality subside enough for me to deal with life happily. So far. But I’m still itching to get away again.

About The Author

Amanda Kendle is an Australian travel addict who's visited more than thirty countries. She works as a travel blogger, blogging trainer and social media consultant and is trying to get a novel published. You can follow her life as a travel blogger at Not A Ballerina.

342 Responses

  1. Jamie

    Amanda,

    Great post! I, like you, spent many years abroad in Europe and Asia. I was quite surprised by the reverse culture shock I experienced when returning to the States. You’re so right when you say you quickly return to normality and no one really cares about your travels. What a letdown that was. Very anticlimatic. No matter how I tried to describe my adventures, no one was interested. At first, I chalked it up to their unworldliness but soon figured out it was me. As much as they’re not interested in traveling overseas, is how uninterested I am in living in one place all my life. Actually I think my reverse culture shock or discomfort is rooted in the fear I may not get to live overseas again. But I won’t let that happen!

    ~Jamie

    Reply
  2. Anna

    Amanda-

    thank you for putting into words the problem that so many of us travelers feel so often! I have spent a lot of time crying as airplanes lift off the ground to take me home. But somehow life always seems to balance out in the end. keep up the good work!

    Reply
  3. Amanda

    Thanks Jamie and Anna. This definitely seems to be a problem many travelers face. It does always work out in the end and I guess we should be very grateful we get to have lots of great experiences in other countries – even if nobody back home cares to hear about them!

    Reply
  4. clarice

    Thanks for posting this blog and help travelers to understand some of the confusions and ambiguity in life. I totally agree with you calling yourself a travel addict, i can feel that i am hooked on this unspeakable addiction. Not many people can understand it. I also find it hard to balance out the passion that had grown deeply in our hearts and you want to inspire people around to try this ‘drug’. Life is a learning process, i am not afraid to go through the reverse culture again. I am from Asia and now i am studying in the West. But i guess this time, i know how to handle it better. THanks again!!Great observation!!

    Reply
  5. Amanda

    Thanks for the feedback, Clarice. I’m glad you’re brave enough to risk another bout of reverse culture shock. I guess every time it gets a bit easier (hopefully) … and the benefits far outweigh the problems, I think.

    Reply
  6. Kursat

    I’m an exchange student in the Netherlands. I’m here for six months, more of which has already passed. I could never imagine I would live through such feelings, but I think I’m starting to panic (a lot!). I usually don’t want to go back. I have built a life here, and I feel like it will be taken from me when I go back. I can’t even handle the thought! I guess depressive weeks are not so far away, especially the first few weeks (or months?) after I return home.. Thanks for the blog.

    Reply
  7. Jade

    I have experienced this twice after returning from Paris and Buenos Aires! I had no idea that it just wasn’t depression thanks for the blog and the insight!

    Reply
  8. Sarah

    I spent a year teaching English in South Korea, and just returned back to Canada at the end of August. I was so anxious to get back to Canada, and it’s great to be home. However, it’s very strange to be back home…nothing has changed here, but I know I have changed. That makes it quite difficult at times. But thanks for your insights into reverse culture shock…I’m glad that there is such a thing…I thought I was going crazy or something…lol. Thanks! :)

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  9. Lilly

    Yes, I definitely suffer from reverse culture shock, too. I am back now in my home country for about 9 months and still feel very much that I somehow don’t fit in here anymore. And I wonder if this is ever going to change and if I even want it to change because it might mean that my perception might change, too. Thank you for sharing your reverse-culture shock experiences with me. At least I know now that I’m not the only one who goes through this!

    Reply
  10. carlie

    Thanks to all for sharing your experiences. I’m actually right in the middle of a reverse culture shock after returning from a 5- year stay in the States to Europe. So it was a huge relief to read about what other people have felt like in similar situations, and to find out that this problem is so universal.

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  11. Emily

    I got back from Japan after being there for 6 months 3 days ago.
    The first day was great, beautiful scenery and went driving for the first time in months. But since then, everything is different and strange. Which is what I love when going abroad but here its just bizarre cause it was my home. How people act surprises me a lot more than I thought it was. and I’ve found myself not wanting to do anything. Eat food, read books I’d once read or DVDS I used to love and watch a lot. Never mind go out and see things. I guess its still early days. But looking back on photos just makes me sad cause I miss everyone.. And looking forward.. just makes me feel uncomfortable. I guess its early days eh.

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  12. alistair

    Great article, I’ve been back home in New Zealand for a week after travelling throughout Asia and Europe for the past year, and reading this really helped. I’d heard of culture shock etc before and never experienced anything like the reverse culture shock that I got when getting back home; It’s getting better now but there was something unsettling about returning ‘home’ and feeling like you just didn’t quite fit in.

    Reply
  13. Catherine

    I have spent my life travelling overseas then returning to New Zealand, but this last return after 7 months in Central America has been really difficult. I think it is reverse culture shock and reading this article confirms that. Thanks for writing it.

    Reply
  14. Ellen

    I just got back last night from my first-ever big trip, to India for three weeks. Now all I want to do is see the world, and can hardly wait to get out of Canada again. You seem to have done very well for yourself travel-wise, which I love! I can feel how hard adapting to the structure of returning to work and school again is going to be..but the gains outweigh the pains.

    Reply
  15. Sarah

    Oh my goodness! So good to hear I’m not going crazy!! I thought it was depression too. After living in china for 3 years and the states for 1 year moving home to Australia has been odd. All my friends are married, with homes and babies. They are the same people with different priorities. I feel like an outcast. So, I have no friends… then I have my own business so I have to build all my clients back up. So right now I have no money. I am borrowing furniture off friends and raiding goodwill. Now I’m not the ‘aussie’ with the cool accent… I fall into the background here… sigh… planning my next overseas holiday in between panic attacks. Reverse Culture Shock is horrid!

    Reply
  16. Megan

    Thank you for posting this. I’ve been studying abroad in France for 7 months and will return home in 9, and am trying to prepare myself ahead of time. I’m really glad you were straight with us: so many other blogs discuss the issue too lightly and I wanted real advice, no matter how hard-hitting it was. That’s what you provided. I’m now kind of nervous to return home, and will continue enjoying every last minute I have in this country.

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  17. Rebecca

    I am happy to read all these stories. I was having such a rough time today, completely secluding myself from my family because I was sad and because they think the problem is just a mere change in diet! ha! I have just returned from a year and then some in South America and Europe. I feel the “stuck” mode every time I return to the US or even just to my home town. I have been bit by the travel bug and only hope that I can maintain the changes and person that I have become. It is hard when everyone wants you to be the same and sees the changes you have made as only bad ones. I know I have been called “mouthy” a number of times in the 2 weeks I have been home but thats because I left without an opinion and came home with one! ha! I am glad I stumbled across this and a couple other webpages. They have really helped tonight!

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  18. Silvia

    Thank you all for sharing your experiences! I’m having an horrible time since I got back to an Italian middle of nowhere after a year as an exchange student in California…I loved my life over there and I love the States while I hate Italy with all my heart, people don’t know anything about the world, you don’t find any ob unless you are empeached with someone and you feel completely underestimated. I wanna head back to the States but for now I’m stuck here and I don’t wanna go out anymore in here cuz it’ll never gonna be like last year…I hate feeling ike this!

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  19. Jess

    So, I spent the rest of my 20s after graduating college, living in Asia. Turning 30 last year, I thought it was time to return to the homeland (USA). I’m now 7 months into my reaclimation into society and still don’t know where I fit in back here? When job hunting, I have experiences in many different areas, so this is frowned upon, because I don’t have the solid 5-10 years in one field. It frustrates the hell out of me. I’m not working for the summer for a small start-up company, making less than I did in Thailand! How do people who have been abroad for so long, get back into the job market in their home country?

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  20. Sarah

    Jess – maybe you could use all your talents to get your own clients – teach another language, work as a freelancer… you have the knowledge, experience and patients from living overseas – so maybe use it to your own advantage. I did that for 6 months to get by and then met more people and eventually one of them offered me a job. So maybe go out and try a new sport, or join a new club and meet people – it’s all who you know, not what you know. The problem I had was when I moved home from 4 years overseas I went back and did all the same things I was doing before I left and it’s just not me anymore. We change and grow a lot faster living overseas… so it’s time for new things. Let me know how you go…

    Reply
  21. Jess

    Hey Sara,

    Thanks for the advice.

    Actually, when I came back to the US, instead of returning to my home state, I went to Atlanta, all new and full of opportunities. I networked and joined different organizations. I met lots of greate people and they were all fascinated about my experiences, however, no job came out of it. Now, I am working in Oregon over the summer for a small start-up that is gracious enough to give me employment, but not really doing something I love. I have definitely wanted to do something geared towards helping companies over here get a better grip on doing business in Asia, but nothing has come of it yet. I will continue the good fight, but I see this with many good people I knew in Asia who have come back and I know that I’m not alone. How do we reintegrate back into society and become an asset to companies???

    Reply
  22. Andy

    I am studying abroad in Switzerland next semester with my school and I have come across this idea of “Culture Shock.” It is beginning to scare me :( I am studying in Europe for 4-5 months and I am really excited. However, I do not want to feel disconnected or different when I return home. I want as much normalcy as possible. As if I wasn’t scared enough, I have a panic disorder and the idea of culture shock is causing me one haha. ANy advice? Thanks!

    Reply
  23. Amber

    I, myself just got back from volunteering in India. up utill I googled “reverse culture shock” I couldn’t put a finger on what I was feeling. my ‘real’ life feels upside-down and backwards and I can’t figure out how I feel about anything. so, thank you for sharing your story and advice on how to deal with it. :D

    -Amber

    Reply
  24. Rebecca

    Back again, it seems like the return has been more difficult than not. Despite having spent time abroad, feeling alone there, I feel worse back here. For the past week sadly I have found myself crying myself to sleep and doubting I made the right decision. I just don’t feel well and while I want to turn to my family for help they choose to be indifferent about the subject so I feel more alone and like I am supposed to go back into their way of living. I joined a few meetup groups online and have tried to keep myself busy but it is still painful. I thought about renouncing my stay here in the US and just going abroad again but then I think of the reasons why I came back. I wish it weren’t so difficult. I also understand your difficulties Jess, I have found myself working in a supermarket because no one will hire me either. At least it is something and just as respectable as any other position but it is tiring and not where I had imagined myself to be at this point. Do you have any advice? I seem to have hit a wall here.

    Reply
  25. Amber

    Hey Rebecca,

    I hope you find the balance your looking for.I feel like I’m in the same boat. I don’t know how I feel about anything right now. after comming back from such an interesting and peaceful culture, I find myself questioning every aspect of my life. good luck to you!

    -Amber

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  26. Sherry

    Oh gosh…back in USA after my first trip to Europe. I wish i were still there…on the metro..my least favorite place of all. I’m wondering how I will ever survive over here. I have a 16 year old daughter…otherwise I would not have returned..I want to go back there so badly…metro and all.

    Reply
  27. Jess

    Hey Rebecca (and Amber),

    How long have each of you been back in the US?

    Me, I came back last mid-October. I now find myself in a small town in Oregon, making less money per month than I did working in Thailand. How is that possible? I went from a corporate account manager, to working for a small business out of someone’s house. I’ve been applying for jobs, contacting companies, joining professional groups, networking, you name it, I’ve done it. It seems that if you don’t have that one defining career, you are invaluable. So what that you’ve worked as a manager, with HR, marketing, and published a magazine all within 3 years abroad. It means NOTHING back here to anyone. Really satisfying.

    The answer? I still have no idea. Do I run back to Asia and escape the reality in my home country or do I grind it out and pay my dues like everyone else? It’s a question I ask myself, probably hourly. I have a friend who also came back from Thailand and is an extremely talented individual and he finds himeself in the same situation. It sucks and no one around us understands where we’re coming from.

    At least we have this board to vent and know that we’re not alone. Have you seen the Travel Channel’s campaign for the ‘travel bug’ where the people are saying, “I am not alone.” That’s what it feels like here.

    Reply
  28. Amber

    Jess,
    I’ve been back a week. today. actually to the hour. LOL.

    good luck with finding work, that sounds really frustrating.

    Where in Thailand were you? I was there 4 years ago, 30 days before the ’04 Tsunami. I’d love to go back. Thailand is beautiful! :D

    Reply
  29. Jess

    Amber,

    I was in Bangkok, but I travelled all over the country in my spare time.

    I also lived in Japan as well.

    Reply
  30. Amber

    thats really cool, I only spent a few days in Bangkok then we went down to Puket and Koh Phi Phi Island. it was beautiful! I’d love to back.

    I just got back from Dharamsala, India. It was wonderful! :D

    Reply
  31. Diane

    So many good comments. I will leave Shanghai next week after 2 1/2 years. My husband will stay here in China while I go back to teach in the public schools in the US. It will be hard to be apart, but economic downturns are a powerful force.
    Thanks for the good advice. I will try to keep my stories of this incredible life for those who ask. Trips home in the last couple years have revealed exactly what you describe. If you have not tasted, touched, smelled, and felt Asia, you just cannot relate.

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  32. Mat

    I’m writing this at 3am after waking up from a bad dream. I suddenly realised that, after 9 months back in my own country, I am angry, resentful and very unhappy. I had a short term contract which was the reason I came back after 5 years living abroad but now I am unemployed again.

    I am a 27 year old male and I used to be confident, dynamic and passionate. I know feel numb, emasculated and lonely. My confidence both professionaly and personally has reached rock bottom.

    The only solution seems to be to leave the country again. This forum has at least made me feel a little less alone.

    Reply
  33. Mat

    Also, I was wondering if anyone has sought professional help with their depression or anxiety.

    An accute case of ‘reverse culture shock’ seems like the sort of thing that only affects the privileged. With all the mental health problems with more serious roots I worry I wont be taken seriously.

    I dont want to burden my friends or family by letting this out to them either.

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  34. Caitlin

    Reverse Culture Shock…

    I’ve read quite a bit about it, from quite a few different sources, but I really loved the way it was described in this one!

    Actually, I don’t have much experience with Reverse Culture Shock (honestly–the most I have as of yet is a return from a 3-day anime convention…) but from articles, I think I know what to expect ^^ I’m just about done my year of exchange in Japan, so I’ll get to experience all those wonderful feelings of “Is this really my home?” once I get back ^^ Luckily, I don’t need to worry too much about jobs and such, as I’m still in highschool… but that just means there will be different kinds of hardships.

    My question: do you have any advice on how to keep in touch with the people you’ve met in other countries?

    Oh, and because it seems no one has done this yet, to Andy: I don’t think you should worry about Reverse Culture Shock yet ^^ Don’t let it get in the way of your study abroad! When the time comes to deal with it, you’ll have all sorts of different views and experiences! You might not want normalcy then, but at the same time, you might be surrounded by it. When you’re close to coming home, you can look it up and prepare yourself. Knowledge is the key to survival, or something like that. But first, just concentrate on having a wonderful experience in your new country! Wish I could help more, but I haven’t gotten home yet… still having a wonderful time for the next… 4 days T_T It really is a great experience, and I think everyone else who’s commented so far would agree that the hardships of travelling are worth it!

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  35. Samantha

    This is a great article, thanks :)

    I returned home to the UK yesterday after 6 months in Asia (3 mnths travelling and 3 mnths working in Cambodia) and it’s certainly hard coming home! Everyone’s busy with work and their lives whilst I somehow need to find a job and figure out what to do next..!

    Reply
  36. Jess

    Mat,

    I feel ya brother! I’m in the same boat, except I’m 30 and working on 31.

    Everything you described in your 3am post was right on with how I’m feeling as well. I feel there is no place for me back in the US. I’ve been back here since last October and haven’t found a real, full-time job yet. I’m in my last week of work for a two month temp job, living on the opposite side of the country I grew up in and I have NO idea where I’m going or what I’m gonna do next. Pretty pathetic really.

    Diane,

    You were so right with your comment about people who haven’t been to Asia (or at least lived there) that can’t relate to those of us who have.

    You mentioned you are taking a teaching job back in the states. Will you be working at a public school? Was it easy to get on board as a teacher, even if you weren’t a teacher back here before (or were you?)

    This thread is very therapeutic and I thank all of you for your posts.

    Reply
  37. Dee Dee

    I am also wondering who I am and what my life is suppose to be like. I am 57 and have lived in Shanghai for 11 years. I have a daughter and granddaughter still there. I returned to the states due to my mother passing away last October and my dad living alone. I was working in Shanghai and have now returned to a town of 30,000 people with a very high unemployment rate. I have been trying to find a job but there is nothing. There was an ad for Walmart :) part-time and there were 600 applicants. I have been working as a secretary for schools in China for 11 years and living comfortably.

    When I thought of coming back to the states it was part due to depression losing my mom and of not being here for my dad and also the over-stimulation of Shanghai. (Too much personal stress couldn’t take the fast pace of Shanghai.)

    I think even outside your own country you can continue to go through culture shock in the host country. Sometimes the more the think you know, you find the less you know. So, I am lost now. Miss my granddaughter and am thinking of returning to what has been my life for 11 years. 20 mil people compared to 30,000……..now don’t know if I can handle the boredom and no friends here. I haven’t lived here in over 22 years. Was in Oregon before going to China. Lots of thinking to do….. and decisions to make.
    Sorry for rambling, I think they call it journaling.

    Reply
  38. Amy

    Thank you very much – all these posts made me feel a lot better; more normal. I would just like to ask if anyone else find that when they return from longer stays abroad, their behaviour at home becomes erratic – that you do things you normally wouldn’t have done (such as drinking WAY too much, sleep with strangers you pick up in bars, etc.). Also, I feel really guilty and ungrateful towards my friends, family, and even my country, for not being able to think about anything else but how I can get back out again, preferably permanently. Anyone else…?

    Reply
  39. Jessop

    Dee Dee,

    Thanks for sharing your story.

    Are you in Oregon now? Which part? I am a former Asian dweller, who returned to the US last October. I’m orginally from Ohio, returned to Atlanta, and came out to Oregon in May for a 2 month temp position and am now looking for what’s next.

    I’m in Dundee, just outside of Portland. If you’re near let me know and maybe we can meet up.

    Jess

    Reply
  40. kylie

    Oh my gosh! How great to read this page, at a time of feeling so lost.

    After 11 months back home in Australia I am still feeling completely out of place here.

    I returned from three years in Europe, with the determined belief that I could make it work here, b/c even though exploring other countries is amazing, the important things in life for happiness are not about where you are, but who you are with/your health & wellbeing/how you spend your time.

    To have come to this conclusion, and still be feeling completely empty here is really frustrating..do i go back, just so I can feel alive again but at risk of feeling more lost? Or do I keep trying and trying to make it work here..

    Reply
  41. kylie

    p.s. mat- yes i have sought professional help for this, and for the depression/anxiety that has started as a result of the feelings Ive had since returning home.

    So far (three weeks in) its been pretty helpful, and have totally been taken seriously!

    Reply
  42. Dee Dee

    Hi Jess,

    I am currently in Illinois and will move out to Vancouver WA actually on July 28th. Will be staying with my older daughter for a while until I can get settled. There is absolutely no work here in Illinois and Portland/Vancouver is much bigger. So hope there is something there.

    Yes, would like to meet once I am there. How long were you in Asia? What did you do there? Hope you are doing okay. It is such a big change just moving back plus all the other emotional things going on right now.

    I don’t know how to keep in touch other than through this blog, do you?

    Reply
  43. Jasmine

    I wish there was a proper support group for this… I’ve been traveling for the better part of 2 years and just came home a few days ago. My first visit to Wal-mart and the mall left me with a severe bout of social anxiety and I want to hide in the corner and do nothing! I can’t even imagine working at this point. Sigh…

    Reply
  44. Kimberly

    Great post! I’m going through a bit of reverse culture shock at the moment… I lived in Sweden for about 2 years, and now I’m back in the USA. It’s been… interesting :)

    Reply
  45. Karen

    Great post. I just returned from a 3 month trip in South Africa three days ago. I swear I am still trying to get used to everything. I had to drive back to my university and it was so awkward for me to remember which lanes we drove in and passed with. It shall be interesting to see how I feel once the semester begins for me.

    Reply
  46. Cheval

    I completely agree with you.I just got back today from a 4 month trip to Chile and right I am going through the reverse culture shock. I know that it will take me a couple of weeks to get back to the swing of things, but I know I will.

    Reply
  47. Joan

    Thank you everyone – I can’t tell you how helpful all of your posts are. I just got home from France yesterday, and like every time I’ve come home from abroad, I’m in the depths of all of the feelings you all talk about. But until now, I thought I was the only one who had to go through this every time I came back. I’ve always been baffled how this experience does not translate, even to the best of friends and family back here. (which, of course, just makes you feel that much MORE isolated and lonely!) It’s ironic that surfing the internet, one of the very things I bemoan about returning (along with the other vapid preoccupations of Americans with all their “stuff” like TV, etc, over actual human interaction) is the very thing that’s helped me to see I”m not alone with this. Thank you everyone. It’s truly made a difference for me today.

    Reply
  48. Joan

    Oh yeah, Mat, by the way I thought your initial post was beautifully written. Thanks for that too.

    Reply
  49. Karen

    I don’t know if what I am feeling is reverse culture shock or just me needing change in my life. I volunteered in Africa for only 3 weeks and it doesn’t seem like enough time to need to readjust to my life. I’ve been back for a week and have been unmotivated to do anything but watch TV and tonight I completely lost my temper and was yelling at a stranger. (this isn’t how I am usually). I have had friends and family interested in my trip but I’m not really interested in telling them about it. How do you condense all those experiences into a few cute stories? People on this forum discussed depression but has anyone acted irrationally?

    Reply
  50. Joan

    Karen – Ooh yes, acting irrationally. What I end up doing is sort of compulsively eating (sweets) and drinking way too much coffee, both in an attempt to fill the void, preoccupy myself from thinking about all the ways it’s hard to be back, and to get my mood into a more reasonable realm – all this on top of being generally pissed off, and yes, being pretty snippy at people. Intolerant of lots of things. You are definitely not alone with this.

    Reply
  51. Rebecca

    Karen-
    You are not alone and 3 weeks, 2 days, 1 hour in a foreign place to make you realize you are not alone in this big world can cause some serious changes. You may even question where you belong in the big of things. I myself didn’t want to talk about my travels, I have still not printed one single picture of my travels nor have I showed them to anyone, and boy did I get pissy with people too at first. I had a hard time with people I thought were “ignorant” just because they didn’t see things the new way I saw things. I went to a county fair and thought that everyone just didn’t realize there were bigger things out there. But really, there are those big things but there are other things too. Being comfortable with were you fit in is the most important and that will take time. I have grown a lot since the first blog I wrote on this webpage. I was outraged at everything and really upset. You don’t have to condense your experiences in short cute stories nor do you have to explain to anyone how you feel. But you do need to realize that every person deals with this kind of shock (and it is not always under this title of reverse culture shock, it can be just the shock of something unfamiliar that has you question previous values and morals you hold) in his/her own way and you will be fine soon enough. Just keep keepin on darlin and everything will be just fine.

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  52. Jada

    Thank you for this post. It has been a great encouragement to me since I have lived in China for a total of 12 -13 years! My only regret is I wish I had read this earlier!

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  53. Zack

    Life can really be nice when you travel around the world, but it can be more than difficult by the time you get home! this is what I am experiencing! I lived in a nice city of Berlin (Amanda you were very right) for a year, then in Copenhagen for some time and in Geneva – Switzerland for few months, now its time to go home but can’t figure it out how terrible it is going to be! Tanking into consideration all of your posts, I think it will probably be easy to reverse the shock! Thank you all for sharing your experiences.

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  54. Libby

    You have really painted a perfect picture of what it is to come home. Before experiencing the pain that is reverse culture shock, I would have written it off as some sort of pretentious, even petty experience, but it is REAL. I lived in Paris, France, for four years and I did not want to leave. I was engaged to marry someone who would help me obtain citizenship, but when the marriage did not work out, that and the fact that I had to return to my home country literally crushed me. I have been home for a year and I STILL experience this feeling. I actually made friends in Paris who were closer to me than anyone has ever been, therefore, my relationships home (except the one with my mother) do not compare. I am constantly trying to figure out ways to get back! It’s so hard, how can you get em back on the farm after they’ve seen Paris?

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  55. Alana

    Thank god I found this page.

    I’ve just got back from a four month stint in Europe. I’ve been back not even a week and I can’t begin to explain how strange and surreal everything feels. Everything grates on me and gets on my nerves. I’m from Perth too and gosh do I feel isolated.
    Mere days ago I couldn’t wait to get home and see my family, and now I don’t know what I want.

    I was desperate to put a name to how I’m feeling so started googling and final stumbled upon this page.

    Nice to know I’m not insane!!

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  56. Mona

    hi, I can absolutely…ABSOLUTELY relate to this discussion on reverse culture shock…I am going through it now,and I hate it….I’m so depressed,you have no idea…:-(
    I have been living abroad for many years…first, in Zurich…then in Los Angeles…then in Milan,(all together, thats almost 10 years away) and as much as I disliked random things about those places, I recently came back to my hometown of Ottawa,Canada, and I don’t know what I’m doing here..

    I studied fashion design in Milan,got my diploma,and now I’m here,cause my student visa was on the verge of expiration,and did not find a job in that time to keep me there.Now I’m here,and I feel like Ive regressed,and my family have all moved away,except for my parents,who have reached senility,and don’t seem to be aware of the changes in me, nor do they see me as a grown woman.There is nothing for me here, which is the reason I left in the first place, its a national capital, and very very conservative, and everybody works for the government, and there are next to NO jobs in the arts,fashion et al.. I walk around the city,and I just feel like I don’t belong here,and I feel like crying…I tried to hook up with old friends,and the only one I found left in the city,gave me the coldest shoulder ever…I was so HURT!
    I keep telling myself..”I’m not in a rut…I will find fashion work and get out of here”…but its strange,I am staying with my parents,and I find it really difficult to be my own person around them,and I feel mangled by the neck…and I am completely humiliated going back in time,being older,and coming back to a life that no longer exists for me…any advice would be appreciated.Thanks.

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  57. Joan

    Wow Mona, you’ve got a tripple whammy going on there, and just the culture thing is enough to lay a person up for a year. The best advice I can give would be to keep checking in with this website and other similars (they’re out there, but I found this one the most helpful, thanks to everyone’s input), and just realize how many others are out here who REALLY understand this very particular, crushing, anilhilating staple to the heart. How many times have I wanted to open fire on the doofuses standing in line at the supermarket? Or even better, at the drive-thru at starbucks, one person to one SUV? Or just the total oblivious reactions to some new great thing I’ve come to understand from my time away, followed by a complete change of subject? Yes, you are not alone. And yes, you do change quite a bit while your old world hasn’t, or has changed in a whole different direction from yours. And yes, sometimes the very people you’ve longed to see for so long don’t seem to even make sense any more.
    Please, don’t feel humiliated about your situation. You haven’t done anything wrong to have landed where you are. You did something great, lady! You studied fashion in Milan! That alone is a great accomplishment. Now, a BIG readjustment is only natural. It’s okay if it sucks. It doesn’t mean you did anything wrong.
    Okay, what has helped me also is getting into hosting foreign travellers – there are a few organizations, but I joined Hospitality Club. So once in a while I get to be around/host people from NOT HERE. If it’s not possible to host anyone because of space problems, you can just meet them and go hang out somewhere. It’s a great exchange, and being travellers, they are frequently also people who have had to return to their respective homes, and have had to struggle with similar sadness. Also, whatever you’re into? Get way into it. Hole up in your room and make clothes, every spare minute you can. If you can afford it, go visit Montreal or New York. If not, bookmark some prime inspiring websites, maybe find books. Get a bunch of music you love. Find others who have traveled. They know that things don’t translate, and they understand. Cook your favorite things you ate over there. Plan your next trip, even if you can’t afford it right now. knowing you can and will escape helps immeasurably. It will happen for you.
    Also what’s helped for me, is just realizing that when you return you might be having a hard year or so, and that’s all there is to it. Ironically, that has made the adjustment quite a bit easier. I’m not so outraged about things when I just accept it.
    And finally, it seems like for you, if you can possibly move from your parents’ house, it might help you to reconnect with the more mature, developed person that you have become in this intervening time. Your own space, even if it’s just a tiny room somewhere, may help you to make sense of everything you’ve seen and done and are experiencing now.
    Please excuse the length of this post. It’s just that my heart really goes out to you and everyone else who has been through this. Best. -Joan

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  58. Mona

    hi Joan,thanks alot for your comment…I feel much better knowing that I’m not alone,because I thought I was going crazy…I have been back in Canada for 3 months,and don’t feel at home at all…its been a really wierd homecoming…everything that the author said, from “nobody caring about your trip” to feeling stuck, to “people not understanding” to ‘returning to a mediocre life of familiarity’,is precisely what I feel.,and it can be demoralizing. Eventhough many of my experiences in Europe were negative (like getting raped in Milan by a 22 year old sicilian degenerate who followed me home off the tram)I had to deal with the ugliness independently. Coming home to Canada and my past, just made me feel like what happened, didn’t,and that I couldn’t survive in another country on my own…

    There is this French movie called “Spanish Apartment” which is about a Parisian guy who studies in Barcelona for a year, and there’s a scene when he comes back to Paris, he sees the familiarity of his past life, and he walks through the streets, depressed,and lost…it hit me hard to watch that scene!

    I am very fortunate to have found you and everyone on this site,and to have read about “reverse culture shock”…its real,and its common…and for once I am not alone on this…thanks Joan

    Mona

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  59. Mon

    hi Joan,thanks alot for your comment…I feel much better knowing that I’m not alone,because I thought I was going crazy…I have been back in Canada for 3 months,and don’t feel at home at all…its been a really wierd homecoming…everything that the author said, from “nobody caring about your trip” to feeling stuck, to “people not understanding” to ‘returning to a mediocre life of familiarity’,is precisely what I feel.,and it can be demoralizing. Eventhough many of my experiences in Europe were negative (like getting raped in Milan by a 22 year old sicilian degenerate who followed me home off the tram)I had to deal with the ugliness independently. Coming home to Canada and my past, just made me feel like what happened, didn’t,and that I couldn’t survive in another country on my own…

    There is this French movie called “Spanish Apartment” which is about a Parisian guy who studies in Barcelona for a year, and there’s a scene when he comes back to Paris, he sees the familiarity of his past life, and he walks through the streets, depressed,and lost…it hit me hard to watch that scene!

    I am very fortunate to have found you and everyone on this site,and to have read about “reverse culture shock”…its real,and its common…and for once I am not alone on this…thanks Joan

    Mona

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  60. Joan

    Mona – Anytime – glad if I could help at all. Yeah, feeling nuts…know it well. But have gotten through it, and this time will change (for the better) for you too. Just wanted to say I’m sorry you had to go through such a terrible experience over there. And sounds like that wasn’t even all…Well, go ahead and feel nuts for a while. It will change. I’m gonna go check out that movie.
    -Joan

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  61. Libby

    Hey Mona,
    I’m also glad that I read your post…I left Paris because I couldn’t find a job in my field as well. It’s often difficult with the visas and what not if you are not a European citizen. Anyhoo, like you, I left the place that I loved in pursuit of a career….which I HAVE NOT FOUND. That feeling you spoke about “what am I doing here,” is all too familiar to me. It’s sickening. Also, after four years at the American University of Paris, I am 130,000 dollars in debt. I am figuring out ways to pay it off, but the field of journalism is crumbling. CNN, Conde Nast, and the like have all given me the cold shoulder. I should have just stayed in Paris illegally and been a nanny. It beats this.

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  62. Libby

    The song Ordinary World by Duran Duran best sums up the feeling of severe reverse culture shock.

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  63. Mona

    Thanks Joan, thanks Libby,for your comments,and thanks everyone, for making me feel less isolated in this bone chilling experience. Wow…reverse cuture shock,who would’ve known it was an actual terminology?I feel better knowing that it has been pinpointed. I have been experiencing this “reverse culture shock” since I was 19(first time backpacking in Europe), and have never…never never never NEVER recovered.In fact, the desire to leave to other places just got stronger!

    Joan, I have had many bad experiences(the rape situation occured more than once in Milan) while away in Europe, but eventhough it left a scarred memory, I still feel that living abroad is a part of me now.Your advice and moral support is excellent and very appreciated,and I thank you very much.I did in fact, sign up for hospitality club!What a great idea,never heard of it before!

    Libby,I understand exactly what you’re going through,in fact,Paris is the city I love most of all (take a trip to Montreal,which is a very French city in Canada,it may make you feel better!),and I know what it is like, to return to the mundane predictable life that is all too familiar,unprogressive and grey…I highly recommend you watch “Auberge Espanol” (Spanish Apartment) if you havn’t allready…the main character goes through this verrrry thing we are all feeling, as he returns from a year of study in Barcelona,back to Paris (Paris..of all places…who would’ve thought?),and the scene near the end, where he walks down the street in Paris, feeling totally isolated,trapped,confused,lost,
    scared,
    sad and out of place…well…I think we can ALL relate!Its the first time I have ever seen “reverse culture shock” in movie form. I thought that I was all alone on this, and that my feelings of returning to my homeland were abnormal and ,nobody else but me was getting homesick for the “new country” that I should feel happy and relieved to be back….Libby, somethings gotta give…we need to find out where we want to be,and what makes us happy,and even if some of us would rather live more simply, in a place that we love, maybe thats more important…we are not who we were months ago,or years ago,after living elsewhere,and allways remind yourself that there is a way out…

    many thanks for reaching out to me, Joan and Libby…

    Mona

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  64. Karen

    I commented a few weeks ago because I was feeling crazy after a trip to Uganda working with widows and orphans. I was feeling depressed, irritable and just not myself. I had an incidence where I got in a crazy yelling match with someone on the street. During this fight I was disoriented and completely out of my own control. I do think some of this was reverse culture shock and it certainly fits the way you all have been feeling. However, when I brought it up with my theropist she said that it didn’t sound like culture shock but more like post traumatic stress disorder. I have been diagnosed with this in the past and the trip brought up some of those issues. (alot of my issues are around childhood and rape and the plight and humanity of the children and widows sort of made me relive it). I just wanted to bring this up for Mona because she probably is feeling culture shock but there may be more to it that she needs to address. When we are traveling everything is new and needs attention so it is very easy to live in the moment. But you get home and all those issues are still there and still need addressing. Be gentile with yourself and find people who make you feel safe and loved.

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  65. Mona

    hey Karen,

    thanks for your post…yes definitely,you are right..I have ptsd, the Milan police made themselves useful and instead of arresting the rapist, they sent me to a psychologist. But since this is an article on reverse culture shock,I’ll just focus on that,because eventhough I’m traumatized, the horrid shock of being back in my regressive past somehow outweighs the violent experience. I came back to a whole lot of nothing, and since time has passed me by, my presence back in Canada doesn’t seem to matter.I left Canada, so I could pursue the arts, and fashion, only to come back to a young, cultureless,cookie cutter,gentrified country,with which I have nothing in common. I am doing my very best to make the most of it…but no matter what I do, it seems that I am feeling empty and unsatisfied,and that I don’t belong here…like a total outcast..I do make it a point to be chatty and nice to people, on the bike paths, in the stores,at parties,etc, but I just cannot relate to anyone! They have local things to talk about… like where they can buy the best salmon in town, and I couldn’t care less,eventhough I pretend to be interested…where their state of mind is,differs from my own…I have become another person…living abroad for over 10 years and then coming back to the past,made me sick to my stomach…most of the time I feel like crying…I just bike around,in a lonely state,going to events, seminars,malls,cafes,museums,etc,and I can’t seem to fit into the Canadian culture….I have to just keep myself busy, and work on my stuff,and wonder why I am here, and why I feel so alienated,and try to remember how to become a Canadian again…I’m really realy not happy to be back…not adjusting at all,unfortunately…:-(

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  66. Joan

    I just wrote another long post and erased it – I’ll sum it up by just saying thanks to everyone for contributing to the info here. It’s seriously been helping me to put into perspective the pretty huge role this phenom has played in my life the past few years, the extent of which I didn’t fully realize. I still don’t really get why this happens (I get the reasons, intellectually, but on a deeper level, no-) and I still don’t understand what to DO with it. Feel like a freaking cuckoo’s egg here. But this is all so helpful, and I wish there was a giant book full of nothing but other peoples’ experiences on returning. Thanks all.
    ps – Mona, I can’t believe how completely familiar your feelings and experiences with “participating” in local life are. It reads like something straight out of my notebooks the first time I returned from Paris. Thanks.

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  67. Mona

    Hey Joan, hey Libby,Karen and everyone…thought I’d peruse youtube,and find a clip of that movie I was talking about,Spanish Apartment…its close to the end of the film, but there is that part of the main character,Xavier,walking through Montmartre,crying and alienated..a scene with which I think we can all identify.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iEcMysBna3Q

    I there is a book about reverse culture shock, I’d be the first to buy it…

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  68. Joan

    Check it out! I found s little bibliography about reverse culture shock on a study abroad site. Bon apetit!

    Holm, B. (1990). Coming Home Crazy. Minneapolis, MN: Milkweed Editions.

    Kauffman, N. L., J. N. Martin and H. D. Weaver with J. Weaver. Students Abroad—Strangers at Home: Education for a Global Society. Yarmouth, ME: Intercultural Press, 1992.

    Kepets, D. (1995), Back in the USA: Reflecting on your study abroad experience and putting it to work. Washington, DC: NAFSA Association of International Educators.

    Storti, Craig (1997). The Art of Coming Home. Yarmouth, ME: Intercultural Press.

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  69. Beatrice

    You speak my mind :) Thanks for the post! It makes me feel that I am not alone. It’s amazing to see how many in the world experienced it.

    Coming back to Asia from Europe, it’s a bit diffcult to adapt, especially the meantality, how people judge you with perceptions etc.

    I am surviving :) Thanks for the great sharing!

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  70. Kate

    Thanks for the info. I’ve just returned from 6 months in Asia doing volunteer work. I got back home to Australia a few days ago, and all I can think about is going overseas again! Looking at all the photos I took is making me so sad, and I would give anything to go back again! My family is getting so sick of my complaining about how cold and boring home is! and I don’t mean to be rude by complaining so much, but seriously the only thing i can think about is travelling again! I’ve caught the bug big time!

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  71. Sam

    Hi, I just wanted to say that I know pretty much how you feel. I spent 6 months in Asia too this year (although I’ve been home in the UK for 3 months now). But I wanted to say that it does get easier!

    I found Asia was just incredible and so different to my life back here and I’ve found that no-one at home wants to hear any of my stories now but I’ve noticed that I keep mentioning it all the time!

    I have found it helpful to start sorting through all my photos and putting them into albums as a bit of therapy :)

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  72. jmatt

    Returning to Canada after a year of teaching English in Taiwan was one of the most depressing and confusing things I have experienced. People who have never gone through this can not understand how difficult it can be a adjust back to your own culture after straining to, and finally becoming, fully integrated into a completely foreign culture.

    Everything was different! Climate, transportation, diet, friends, work, entertainment…everything! For example, in Taiwan I was revered for being the foreign teacher, and was treated with a huge amount of respect and admiration. My student’s parents were honored to have me teach their children! In Canada I was a lowly electronics sales person who could barely make ends meet! In Taiwan I was provided with a scooter to get around, and everything was only minutes away. In Canada I had to take city transit for over an hour each way to work. In Taiwan we had a cook at the school who made vegetable dishes all the time. In Canada I ate McDonalds. Going for hot pot and Korean BBQ in Canada is uncommon, but in Taiwan it was standard fare. When I was away I lost weight (a healthy loss!), went to the gym regularily, and took afternoon naps, which is common in Taiwan. In Canada it feels like I can barely keep myself alive sometimes.

    Since coming back I have focused heavily on improving my position in life. I make more money, bought a house and all that crap, but I often long for my small apartment, my students, and the corner noodle stand I used to frequent.

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  73. jmatt

    I just had to mention how strange it was to start working in Canada again.

    I had managed to arrange a sales job in Calgary, AB (I had lived there until my family moved to the middle east when I was 13) while I was still in Taiwan. My last teaching day was on a Thursday. On Friday evening I arrived in Calgary and I went straight to the store I was supposed to work. My first day of work was on Sunday. I was so overwhelmed that I couldn’t even focus. I just kept thinking to myself “Three days ago I was in Taiwan, teaching my preschool students about sunflowers. Now here I am, trying to sell DVD players and big screen TVs. I think I have made a horrible mistake.”

    If you are in the market for a way to feel completely alienated and isolated, long term travel is the ticket. I was baffled that no one even cared to remember that it was Taiwan, not Thailand!

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  74. Mona

    Matt….boy can I relate…I am going through the exact same thing…ok maybe not exact,but close.I am from Canada,and im in the arts(im an artist/designer) I have allways aspired to live in Europe,because as an artist, its a very incredible place to be,to work and to get inspired.I tried numerous times to get my work in galleries in Canada,but it allways got regected,because it didnt represent nature, loons, inuit/native canadian heritage etc, and I was not interested in exhbiting it anyway,because there just isnt much of an interest in art in Canada,despite how much they try to claim there is.Anyway, I left, to Europe, then came back, then left to California, then back to Europe, to study fashion design,and the came back to Canada again…and let me say, I am feeling maladjusted, massively depressed,displaced,spiritually dead,empty… as an analogy,for me its like there is this beautiful symphony playing all the time when I was in historical Europe,and as soon as I hit Canadian ground, the music stopped.Its like a Canadian voice all of the sudden abruptly says “Stop your silly dreaming.You’re in Canada now.Get real.Your art doesn’t mean a thing to any of us over here,so snap out of your fantasy land,and get a government job like the rest of us!” A practical, simple ,no-nonsense, conservative community of north americans replaced my complex,colorful,thought provoking ,individualistic,culturally rich European friends.And the change was not pleasant. I have been back since June, and I’m really feeling awful, like a total outcast,no friends,no job prospects in my field of fashion design.I don’t dress like the proverbial Canadian,nor do I think like one.This place is not about me, and I just don’t want this. I am totally empathetic to what you’re experiencing,because I’m going through it too…for me, I’d rather live and work modestly in a place where I was happy,than being comfortable in a place that I hate.Being here again is destroying my spirit…need to leave soon…:-(

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  75. Baden

    I arrived back in Sydney at the end of may this year after eing away for almost 15 years. I am so glad I came across this site as i thought i was loosing my mind.
    Back in Australia things seem so Micky Mouse. I find it hard to communicate with Family, Friends…ha, thats a joke…and work, well they dont seem to count the 15 years i spent working abroad as actual experience although i worked in the IT industry and but in 12 hour days….
    I know I mafde a huge mistake and the dissapointment is killing me…can you imagine the other week I was having lunch with my family and they started making all these racist comments about people from Asia, eg “when are you going to marry a nice white girl…?”
    I couldnt believe what i had heard….
    I shall spend the summer here and then I think I will hit the road again….see sydney again in another 15 years.

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  76. Expatrepat

    Great posting. Such a misunderstood phenomenon amongst expats that repat… I’ve just repatriated back to the UK and after four days am ready to return back to China…

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  77. bretta

    I just stumbled upon this…wonderful posts. I wish I’d found this 2 years ago after my return from a 3 month Europe/Asia backpacking trip! I was depressed for 2 months after returning home. I gained a lot of weight, didn’t see the point of getting out of bed…etc. I wanted to stay in Shanghai, but returned home to finish my bachelors instead. At the time I thought it was a huge mistake. Not to mention in an attempt to save money and get my life in order after returning I lived with my parents which made me feel like a loser, like somehow I had backtracked and was back at ground zero. Living with parents(in the middle of nowhere), no car, no job, no money, no exotic food/people/language/newness/strange experiences=awful and boring. Now I am studying abroad and will return to the USA soon after 5 months abroad. I’m terrified. If I was depressed for 2 months last time after only 3 months abroad will I be depressed for 3-4 months after 5 months abroad! I’m trying to prepare myself mentally. Yes, I’ve been homesick for the people and comforts of home, but I know that I have an unrealistic and fairytale homecoming in my head. It needs to go. It will just make going back harder, no expectations might be the best policy. It is so difficult to understand why no one wants to hear about your trip, and I guess I won’t be talking about it unless someone asks a specific question. Last time no one asked about anything or even tried to hang out, I had to initiate everything. It was exhausting. Everyone was so consumed with their daily lives and I felt as though no one had noticed I’d left. Hopefully, this time will be easier since I’ve done some reading and thinking about my US culture shock. Also, I’ll be quite busy after my return.

    Best of luck to all you other homecomers!

    Joan, I’m off to the library to check out one of those books.

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  78. Mark

    Re-entry bites! After 3 years in Asia with no returns home, three months later, I’m still lost. Thought I’d be returning to a re-awakened, more liberal place. It’s just a place with more Walmarts. At least ignorant people aren’t as annoying when you don’t understand the language.

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  79. Jason

    I can relate to all of this. I just spent 3 months in Thailand and fell in love with a Thai girl named Ying. Everything felt new and adventuress.

    Now I’m back home in New Jersey, the sky is grey, the people are cold /distant, and I feel so sad and out of place. I hate these people and what they talk about, I also hate them for not understanding the exhilirating experience I just had.

    At least I’m not alone. Tomorrow I go to work for my father at his accounting firm, going to be a tough transition.

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  80. Joan

    Ha ha, yeah – listening to what people talk about can be pretty appalling! Especially after your own universe has just been so expanded. You just want to grab people by the shoulders and shake them and say “for God’s sake, would you listen to yourselves??!”

    Good luck at work tomorrow.

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  81. Mark

    I found that cooking delicious foods from the host country helps break the ice when back in hell.

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  82. Mona

    great suggestion,to cook food from other worlds..that I definitely do…also, to shop in ethnic markets where you may find the things you used to buy abroad…Joan made some brilliant suggestions on one of her posts..:-)

    I also found it good to make “virtual international friends”, like on Babbel, Facebook etc…it makes you feel like you are still connected, and everything you experienced DID happen,and you were really there, and not confined to the present depressing “bla”…chatting with my msn posse from around the globe has definitely saved my sanity…

    In real concrete life, there are cultural organizations, like community centers for different country, i.e. Greek community center etc…sometimes its good to get involved and check out events

    It helps, but its not a 100% solution of replacement..I am completely disconnected from my family, they feel like complete strangers to me….in fact, so does everybody else over here…:-(

    Reply
  83. indopunk

    Holy Crap, I’m so glad I found this site through Vagabondish. I never in a million years had even thought about something like reverse culture shock. I have spent the last three years traveling for the most part, with 1 of the 3 living in Bali. I absolutely fell in love with that island, its people, and culture. The waves are not too shabby either. I had planned on staying there forever and creating my vision of the ideal cheap/super cool place to stay. I didn’t care if I made a dime as long as I could pay my staff really well and the business kept rolling. The emphasis on me living in paradise. I imersed myself in the language of Bahasa Indonesia and was starting to work on Balinese. I wanted people to come and stay at my place and go away so stoked that they would tell their friends. I knew it would work because I wanted it to be the kind of place that I would love to spend my money and time. I had the whole thing mapped out (architectual drawings, business plan, etc..). Then my whole world came crashing down upon my head. It’s a lot more difficult than you can imagine to try and move to a foreign country. Especially Indonesia. They are almsot proud to tell you how corrupt they truly are. When you’re working with a smaller budget and don’t have the resources to line a bunch of pockets, and your Balinese partner is not part of the upper caste, your screwed. I know I was being fairly idealistic about my plans but that was what I wanted to do. Create something that was good for me, but especially good for my Balinese friends that I wanted to be involved. They treated me like family and showed me things about Bali that very few if any tourists will ever see or experience. So all in all it fell through. And then so did I. I fell into a huge depressive pit. I have been home about a year now and I’m still struggling with feelings of defeat. I came back to the US, Oregon to be exact, and found myself changing into a recluse. My social butterfly wings got clipped and I crawled back into the caccoon so to speak. I immediately moved back to California mostly to escape the rain and cold. Put myself back into school hoping that would be a nice change of pace. For the most part it has been. But there is not a day that goes by that I don’t have regrets about Bali. But the real deal is the feeling of being alone and no-one out there that understands. I just recently turned the big 4-0 and never thought i was the type to have a mid-life crisis. Mine doesn’t involve the sports car, or the super young girlfriend. Mine is; not feeling like I fit into this so-called civilization anymore (although I never really fit in, I always walked on the sub-culture side of things). Lucky for me school is going on break and I’m off to New Zealand for a month and a half. I wish we could all meet up for a drink so we could all bitch together about how much we all change after travel. Things don’t look the same anymore.

    And yes to whoever it was that was talknig about making food. I ran out of balinese coffee long ago, and I refuse to drink it in any other form, but making foreign food is definately a good way to lift the spirits. God I almost sound optomistic. haha

    By the way did anyone else notice that there are only about 4 or 5 male bloggers? That is so typical. Thanks ladies for opening the door for us this time. I’m so glad I found this page. Sampai jumpah lagi

    Reply
  84. Joan

    Wow – great to read your post, thanks Indopunk. You know, I wonder if those of us who love to leave our own countries are more of outsider types to begin with? And so returning just throws a huge spotlight on all those things that we were never in step with anyway, but could tolerate because we hadn’t seen the complete non-necessity of living that way? I wonder. I better go make some espresso and think about it.

    Smart idea, returning to school. For whatever reason, every experience I read about this helps (or something) a little bit more, so thanks again.

    Reply
  85. Mark

    I don’t know if I am just a coward, but the moment that I was open to returning to Thailand, my depression lifted. Even if I don’t go back soon, having the option open sure helps my mood. My experience overseas was very successful, Indopunk’s failure in Bali seems like a tough one to work through, maybe he ought to consider giving it another go on a smaller scale to get over it. Peace.

    Reply
  86. Jason

    Mark, I love Thailand too and can’t wait to go back, may not be too soon , but I’ll be back!

    Reply
  87. indopunk

    Joan, I agree that the need to travel is just inherent in some of us. Really I think that it’s, well ust for me anyway, a way to try and connect with some sort of culture. I as an american have no discernable culture. Sub-culture yes but no binding-this is who I am and where I came from. Like most americans I’m a heinz 57 so trying to say I’m Dutch, German, Irish, Native American, and Scottish is rediculous. It’s a thin veil. Not that I’m saying I’m one of those that latches on to someone elses culture and claims it as my own, I just have always been fascinated with the outside world. Outside of the states that is. I’ve always considered myself very open-minded and so far from ethnocentric that going to foreign places is never intimidating. It’s a real experience that most people will never know. And what a shame it is too. Travel makes the world so much smaller. I’m studying cultural anthro, and archaeology right now. The idea is to have a skill to get paid to immerse myself into a culture. A lot of anthropologists go about it all wrong, so I want to try and be a part of the changes happening in that field. Sounds like the perfect job to me.

    Mark, thanks man I appreciate the comment, unfortunatly it was a fairly small scale to begin with. It wasn’t so much the money part although land in Bali has increased 30% a year for the last couple of years. Shocking…that kind of jump. It went from 3rd world to Maui in a heartbeat. I don’t know if things have changed much over this last year with this economic crisis we’re in, but I doubt it very much. It was the government hoop-jumping that took its toll. The expats who got in early had it way easier. Now they know what they have and they will make it as difficult, and as expensive as possible to do anything without a ton of money. It’s sad because there are enough huge, and expensive boutique hotels on the island. The cheap ones are kinda run-down with no way to attract people. I wanted to do something good. But as we all know; money makes the world go round. The Russians with new money are flooding Bali, and screwing it up. They were getting in all kinds of trouble while I was there with the government. And… they flood the heavy surf spots without a clue of what they’re doing. You can’t strap a boogie board leash to your ankle and expect to go anywhere, although I witnessed this first hand. I hadn’t laughed like that at someone elses expense before and there was no way I was going to help him out. He had 5 buddies that were doing it the right way, I think he thought he’d found some new idea. hahaha. Stand up boogie boarding is extremely difficult and I know he wasn’t pulling it off. He was just clogging the line-up. I’m just glad I’m chasing summer and going to NZ. It’s getting cold and threatening rain here in Santa Cruz. Thanks again.

    Reply
  88. santiago

    …it’s been 6 months on the day now that I came “home” from my 4 year oversea experience and It is just getting worse…. there is nothing here.. not even a job… after working in upper management overseas …I think the only cure is going back…

    Reply
  89. flyy

    Beautifully written. I myself is going back to singapore after a year in australia, and i know the “reverse culture shock” is gonna hit me hard.

    Reply
  90. Mark

    I feel lucky to have stumble into this forum… I’m not so all alone in this! Thanks, guys.

    Reply
  91. Mike

    whats up ppl?? i just got back from 10month stay in korea and a short vacation in china. I too am going through this dreaded experience. i struggle with feeling out of place a lot of times. however i just returned about 5days ago. i was looking forward to comming home and seeing my family and friends. now that i am home all those things that i hoped for overseas dont seem so appealing. i know the feelings of uncertainty and depression can be overwhelming at times. and it truly sucks. luckly for me got a girl out in china so im still trying to figure out my future. and i think everyones experience and insight on this blog can create a safe haven for others. its good when you can relate with others esp in a time of dismay. i guess the only advice i can offer is stay active. join a gym, basketball league, chess club, book club anything you can to stay active. also create a connection with the people you left behind. use skype keep in touch. i know its difficult to juggle two worlds but if you can create a good balance it can help. everything becomes so similar and you develop a new life for self overseas. returning home isnt as exciting as it should be. even though i only spent 10months overseas feels more like 10yrs. you develop and grow in ways you cant imagine. i know the feelings of not having the same joys for your old passions and it sucks. but you gotta think that if you can try to develop a new life where you need to step outside your comfort zone from time to time it could help. i think creating challenges for self is helpful too. i miss the surroundings and smells of asia as well as the people. but i think the key in all of this is patience. i know idle time and boredum can be such a buzz kill. but trying to stay positive and patient is key. i really dislike that my family cant rationalize my feelings or state of mind. its very frustrating and discouraging. but at the end of the day im still young and you gotta roll with the punches and find the little positives through out your day. i will continue to keep in touch on this site. i feel for everyone on this sight. reverse culture shock sucks!! and i wish we didnt have go through such a bad thing. but im glad i found this page. happy holidays to everyone.

    Reply
  92. Anna

    Few anticipate the difficulties associated with the return. After all, we are going home, no?
    We fail to take into consideration the fact that we have changed and so has our home city. Preparation is key not to mention the need to embrace these changes. Consider it a new expatriation.

    Here is an interesting article for people who are going on expat assignments and the need to prepare for their repatriation.
    http://www.x-expats.com/interviews/76-planning-for-repatriation-what-you-need-to-know.html

    Reply
  93. susan

    wow. i am so glad to have found this blog. it’s been six years since returning from my year trip living abroad and traveling around the world. to this day i still have post trip depression and feel as though no one wants to hear the story of my “experience of a lifetime”. glad to have found you. i no longer feel so alone…
    thanks. susan

    Reply
  94. Mikael

    Me too, as alot of the people commenting here, lived abroad for a longer time (2 years abouts) in Tokyo, i never had a culture shock when going there.. but i did when i got back to here, all the points apply on me and it feels good to know i’m not alone at least !

    I just find myself thinking “this is wrong”, i shouldn’t be back here, i just feel myself getting more and more bitter as each day passes, and just hating more and more on people in my home country, who i feel are close-minded, cold and obnoxious…

    I’m hoping to “flee” this country as i think often..

    But sometimes it’s okay, when i’m with the few friends i still have here, or family of course.

    Worse than any relationship breakup i’ve ever had for sure !

    Reply
  95. Aisha

    Hi, I thank you to write about reverse culture shock. I think Im stuck on this issue in my mind and I was nearly gonna cry when I see some ppl who spoken in english. I feel missing the abroad where I was there for more than 3 years. Thank you

    Reply
  96. Mike

    OK so its been a month. I have been home for a month. Things seem to be a little bit easier. For example simple things like cleaning, exercise, job searching.. etc. However I still feel very frightened and scared for what is to come in the future. This situation feels extremely difficult because im at another cross roads in my life and im not sure which way to go. At times i feel a loss of interest or true excitement for the things I enjoy the most. I still do them but its not the same. I think i miss my carefree attitude i had not too long ago. Being very young thinking i knew everything. But coming to find out i knew nothing. I still have so much to learn. Sometimes I feel like im bordering on some type of mental disorder because a lot of my peers dont seem to be in the same situation. I know the mental disorder is nonsense but im trying to rationalize my dissapointment and unhappiness with my current situation. The combination of growing into an adult and reverse culture shock has really been difficult. I am just wondering if anyone in here has every been in the same boat as me? What are some things that you recommend? How did you over come your struggles? Any advice or insight is highly appreciated. Im 24 and I feel like im starting my life all over again. Again any wisdom or insight would be great. thanks for listening.

    Reply
  97. Mike

    Hey Mike:

    Been 8+ months since i got back home, and it is STARTING to get a little bit easier for me, it’s very much like a relationship break-up, for me at least, and i worked it the same way: give it time, and do stuff you like to do !
    Find new hobbies, meet new people and it’ll work out for you !
    Me, and many/most of the other people here definately felt like “starting over” after coming back to our home countries, life isn’t always easy, but in the end YOU yourself set the bar for how much you enjoy your life.

    Reply
  98. Joan

    Hi Mike,

    I’m glad you know you don’t have a mental disorder. And I definitely know what you mean by it . I was at a different age (37 I think) when I came back for the first time, but it was also like starting all over. Nothing in my old life held any meaning. The whole world just looked like a hollow shell, and there was no place for me in it, and certainly no one who could begin to understand how I felt.
    I can just say things do get easier, but they don’t go back to how they used to be before you left. You outgrew what was before. BUT: this is not a bad thing. It just sucks for a while! And I’d definitely repeat what others here have said before – meet some people from other places who know about this experience. I guaranttee you’ll find there’s nothing wrong with your mind and perception. And whatever you love or even like to do, DO IT as much as you can. It doesn’t even have to have meaning. If making mudpies makes you relaxed and happy, that’s all you need to know about it. Make it your habit for a while. It’s really, really important.
    Eat, and even better, learn to cook what they ate where you just returned from. That experience belongs to you and the however many millions of people that live there, so you feel a little more connected.
    And a really good one, plan your next escape. Even if you can’t do it now, in your mind you’ll know it will happen for you again, and you can get a little excited thinking about the details. LIttle mini trips help, too.
    Really, give yourself time. This is definitely like a bad breakup. Over time you’ll feel less raw. It’s completely confusing and seems impossible to know where to begin to pick up the pieces, or how to make yourself feel better. It may be a day-by-day situation for a while, so allow yourself that.
    Best of luck.

    Reply
  99. Mona

    [sigh]..I don’t know about the rest of you, but being back in my home country after 8 years has given me a serious case of anhedonia, extreme boredom, and I’m angry that I have to endure this pointless existence here ..heck ,I’m even getting nostalgic about sitting in the Milan police station,post-rape..if that isn’t desperation, I don’t know what is…:-(

    Reply
  100. samspade

    I am a professional teacher/fine art photographer/author.
    While I resided in Bangkok (from September 2008 until January 2010) I had time only for work and for sleep.
    I was working many teaching jobs, six and seven days per week.
    The overwork, the noise, the pollution, etc. really, really, really got me down…..
    Now, I am back in Oregon….since January 25th, I’ve submitted 92 resumes and job applications……mostly, in pers0n….so far, I have landed work in a federal jobs program that pays minimally and I am happy to have THAT…..
    I love the cleanness, freshness, and friendliness of Oregon but I do miss a few people in Bangkok very much.
    I hope to return for visits in future years.
    Living there full-time was really stressful for me.
    Still, Oregon life can be boring compared to Bangkok and I am not entirely happy here.
    However, I was even a bit less happy in Bangkok.
    I would like to travel back and forth and not stay too long in either place.
    Only better employment can guarantee me that sort of lifestyle and I will forever strive for it……

    Reply
  101. lydia

    Well, Im still living abroad, but Im going back in a few months for a bit. I keep in touch with alot of friends back home via facebook, and Im lucky they get me and understand why I need to travel.

    But its the people I wasnt so close with that really depress me! This girl asked me firstly, where I was and then when I told her, she went on to ask how the people were there, and that I must not do things alone, but who do I talk to? I patiently told her I have alot of local friends and there are also alot of other travellers like me. Then she was like well “places like that” are so different, have you ever been robbed?

    I just ended the convo after I told her it was probably safer than her own city! The ignorance of people is shocking and if these are the kinds of q’s i have to answer when I go back Im not looking forward to it…

    or maybe im just too sensitive.

    Reply
  102. Mike

    Lydia:

    I was in Asia (Japan) and when ppl hear that i used to live there, the first thing they ask is “how many hookers did you do?”

    …I feel like i’m living in the stone age.

    Reply
  103. Mark

    Came back to Thailand, still don’t feel right. Getting treated for depression next!

    Reply
  104. samspade

    I feel your pain, Mark.
    I became depressed in Thailand, returned to the Statesd, felt much better, and NOW feel depressed again.

    Employment here in Oregon is actually a bit worse than in Thailand.
    I do have various rent, food, and utility subsidies here that I did not have in Thailand but all this is still of little help in the long run.

    If employment here paid more (a lot more) this reverse culture-shock would not be so incredibly painful.

    I really feel myself sinking into “clinical depression”.
    I am having really hard times with my mornings.
    At those times, I feel really bad and it is hard to get on-track for the day and stay on track.

    Surprisingly, nights are better but not all that much better.

    Next time I get to Thailand I will be stuck there forever. I have no money to go back and forth.

    Any suggestions?
    Any others feel the same way?

    Reply
  105. Nicole

    Well, I just happened on this site googling depression, repatriation, etc. Have to say it saved my day. Once again we are reminded of the obvious: there are others out there with the same pain. A bit like reading Greek philosophy texts and suddenly reading your own reactions – why are we suprised we aren’t the only ones.

    Why did I Google? I am an Australian living os in one of the colder and darker parts of the world (read very north). I have been here for 8 years, during which I have savoured the peace, safety and freedom that non-privately owned space provides. For the first 4 years I thought fab, I have found my place at last! I had always managed to feel like an outsider in Aus.

    These days I start to have dark thoughts about my adopted country, a love-hate relationship has developed. Now I have the temptation of a job offer at home (and dream it does not involve working for an asshole like my current job, and all other ideals). However as y’all have said, one can feel equally tourist-like in your home country. Whenever I travel there I always see the negatives, some positives but mostly negatives. What to do?

    I share the feeling of some others who have posted here in that finances may be a large part of our problem. Left to our own choice we are probably long-term wanderers, but as we get older retirment savings become an issue, or even just financial stability.

    I wish you all luck and thanks for the therapy? The skills of people who have stepped outside their comfort zones are invaluable and you should not let wall mart or anyone else make you feel otherwise. The world needs more open-minded people if we are every going to behave as collective Earthlings.

    Yours, terrified of suburbia!

    Reply
  106. Laura

    Wow, I”m so grateful I just found this website! I”m having a full blown mental meltdown and daily panick attacks! I’ve been living in Germany for a little over 3yrs and I have to return to the U.S.A next month because my contract is up. I”m so scared and couldn’t figure out why! I’m 39yr and although in German culture I often felt alone and on the outside it somehow stimulated me. It was a challenge. Life is so wholesome here and I travel 2x a month! I”m constantly in another country! I’m freaked out that I will feel trapped in the USA and have little contact with Europeans. There is an opportunity for me to sign on one more year but in another area of Germany that is very isolated. My decision to return home is the notion that somehow going back home would allow me to meet people who speak my own language and to have a chance at dating. As an outsider and not being fluent in the language here its been 3 long years of little close friends and zero dating. Yet somehow I’m ok sacrificing that in the name of travel!!! I”m so addicted to travel! So I struggle with do I stay and live in isolation traveling constantly or do I go home with the notion that if my goal is to settle down and have a family somehow my own country will provide that. Also who is going to be interesting enough to me if I move back? Lord I”m just babbling b/c I’m crying every day about leaving but feel torn that being in my own culture could perhaps provide stability and social connection and maybe a family. A woman my age must think of these things yet i love being a foreigner. Reading about everyone’s reverse culture shock is exactly what I am feeling and my family thinks i’m crazy when I try to explain it. I”m scared to go home and face the depression and anxiety but I can see that if I continue to move around the world i’m prolonging the issue. Help!

    Reply
  107. samspade

    There is very little opportunity for decent jobs in America at this time, at least for ME as a teacher with a BA, no MA, and floundering in a flooded job market.

    Of course, I have been applying for all sorts of OTHER jobs, too, far-removed from the field of Education.
    After 170+ resumes submitted in the past 90 days, I am throwing up my hands.

    I will return to work in Bangkok during the first week of June.

    I’ve become fed-up here, totally fed-up.
    If jobs which paid a living wage were available, then I would not really prefer to leave my home nation yet again.

    America is well on its way down and this “jobless economic recovery” is NOT what I need.

    Reply
  108. samspade

    Regarding “isolation” and “social stability” in one’s own nation:

    How can one attain victory over isolation and how can one attain social stablility if no jobs here pay “living wages”?

    Who wants to marry an unemployed person?
    What unemployed person wishes to bring children into this world?

    My life in Thailand was stressful and difficult.
    Amazingly, my life in America has been MORE stressful and MORE difficult.

    I could never have imagined such a shocking outcome.

    Sad, very sad, but even sadder if I stay here……..

    I can’t win.

    Reply
  109. Laura

    Dear samspade, they say it takes at least 1 year to adjust to home again. How long have you been there? Perhaps a change in strategy for job search could help? A job coach? Old fashioned called calling or personal visits to HR managers? What state are you in? Can you afford to take a break all together from job hunting and just re-assimulate?

    Perhaps give it at least 1 year before bailing? Sounds as if returning to Thailand will pigeon hole you and lead you to believe it’s your only option. Good luck!

    Reply
  110. samspade

    Dear Laura: I’ve been home only three months but I must tell you:

    I NEED A JOB DESPERATELY.

    I’ve employed all sorts of job-search strategies, including cold-calling.
    HR managers?
    That is an idea I have not yet tried.

    I am in Oregon and if I could afford a break from job-hunting, I would surely take it.
    Unemployment in my area is at 14.4%.
    Other areas in the state are not as bad but they are more expensive in terms of rentals and I know no one in other areas of this state.

    One year before bailing would be great.
    However, once again, I need MONEY.
    I will soon sell all sorts of things I rather not sell just to stay afloat.

    Reply
  111. samspade

    I figure if I do not have the time to enjoy all that stuff, then why hang onto it when the cash will be very useful?

    Otherwise, my landlord and landlady are kind but elderly and sickly.
    Particularly, my landlord is doing badly with his health.
    If he should pass on, then my landlady will be pretty much forced to vacate the property and I will have no place to reside at these below-market rents.

    So, I take all this into account………

    Life here is very difficult for teachers.
    Fewer and fewer have tenure and more and more are being laid-off.
    Of course, new hiring is pretty much nonexistent.
    I am applying for an Oregon teaching license, but realistically, it will enable me only to find work as a subtitute, NEXT school year.

    Nothing to turn my nose up at (and I will not) but I need work NOW.

    I’ve employed all sorts of other strategies in order to get jobs outside of education, many of my 170 submitted applications concern non-teaching jobs.

    This area resembles Great Depression-era times. I was warned by friends NOT to leave Thailand and come back here.
    I was soooooo HOMESICK that I thought:

    Well, I will find work!

    I’ve learned you can’t find something if it genuinely does not exist.

    I’m still a bit undecided but Bangkok is looking better and better, even though I would rather LIVE in Oregon and VISIT Bangkok.

    However, those in need of employment cannot afford to be too particular.

    North Dakota has plenty of work.
    BRRRRRRRR…………
    I wish I could handle the subzero temperatures……..

    Again, thank you so much, Laura.
    Do not worry.
    Hang in there.
    Look into your heart and the answer will come (I hope?).

    Take care!

    Reply
  112. Laura

    Dear Samspade: North Dakota is much closer to Oregon than Bangkok and is not forever…..just a temporary side step until you can perhaps make a decision in less stressful times. Something to think about.

    Reply
  113. samspade

    Dear Laura: Thank you very much for the suggestion.
    I will leave all options open.

    There are various aspects to reverse culture shock.
    The most obvious one is “fitting back in”.
    These days, one must face up to the fact that where one wants to be (Oregon, in my case) is not a good place to be because of state economic woes.

    Incidentally, I have friends in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Washington, and Ohio who all are in the same boat: living in a state with poor employment prospects.

    I truly believe I could handle the reverse culture shock probems, albeit with a great degree of DIFFICULTY.
    However, believe me, finanicial woes do not even allow me to contemplate anything other than how to preserve meager savings and get on with life.

    It would be soooooo nice to visit Oregon beaches, mix with nice people, and RELAX a bit.
    Instead, my feet hit the ground running four days after my January 20th return and have never ceased their St. Vitus’ Dance since.

    To be perfectly honest, I take full RESPONSIBILITY for my situation.
    Although I have never been frivolous with money, I still could have handled finances better in the past.
    I will not lie to you and tell you I was the perfect finance manager when I was not.

    However, we all must learn to forgive ourselves.
    For me, that is the hardest part since my parents had always pounded into me “the need to accept responsibility for one’s actions” (and rightly so).

    Thank you again, Laura.
    I hope your own life is going much more smoothly.

    Take care.
    Keep us posted, please.

    Reply
  114. Anna

    Hello, this interview is with a German Intl headhunter but thought that some of the tips he gave about finding employment when returning back home are useful whether residing in Germany, Thailand or UK…http://tinyurl.com/yc94bgz
    Networking is key!

    Reply
  115. Hannah

    Hi there

    Have read all the above comments with great interest, and really appreciate people sharing their experiences, it helps!
    Have been living abroad in Latin America for 12 years and have returned home to UK. Despite having returned for many trips back during my stay there, actually returning was a massive re-entry shock on every level, people, how they act, language, what people say, weather , food, values and of course, money :( I got a job fairly in TEFL, and although it has been very challenging, this has helped me adapt. I still miss where I lived dearly and feel I have “lost” a part of myself, although I accept I maybe am seeing things through rose-tinted glasses…..and resisting…its as if I settle I will become the same person as when I left…..but ultimately I can never be the same. Luckily my work gives me regular with students from of over 20 nationalities. I’m also learning a new language to boraden my perspective. I still feel like an alien, and feel loathed to moan too much, people get bored with the same story, and wonder why it’s difficult “You’re from here, aren’t you, just pull your socks up, and stop moaning”. Also people want to hear that you’re happy and settled not depressed…
    I think we have to accept the culture to settle in , then we can return or visit at some stage to the one we left behind but we have to try….
    thanks so much for this forum, I really needed to share this..
    B

    Reply
  116. samspade

    Dear Hannah: I’m happy to hear that you have at least found a job within your area of expertise.

    Here – in the Pacific Northwest – teaching jobs of any sort (public or private, part-time, full–time, supply-subsitute) are virtually impossible to find.

    I currently work for a federally-funded “jobs program” which is a fraudulent joke (a scam on the taxpayers, actually, and the term “taxpayers” includes me, by the way).
    All participants are supposed to receive “re-training” in addition to the very minimal pay (at very minimal hours).
    There is no re-training but there is the low pay and the scarcity of hours!

    This summer promises to be much worse.
    2,000 currently-employed public school teachers will be PERMANATELY laid off in this area (the Willamette Valley).
    That fact – coupled with the usual summertime unemployment doldrums – will devastate any realistic chances of meaningful hiring.

    I sincerely hope that you are happy with your job.
    I can only imagine the other stresses you are going through and you certainly have my empathy and support.
    I wish I had a good job (not a great job, just a GOOD job).
    Here, that is too much to hope for (a place where gas station attendant and fast food worker jobs are scarce).

    I will PROBABLY return to Bangkok in very late May.
    The teaching high season lasts until the middle of December.

    There, I earned $13.00 per hour, full-time.
    Here, I earn $8.40 per hour, part-time.

    I will NEVER complain about Bangkok again!

    So sad I cannot make it in my own country.
    Yes, the reverse culture shock is horrific.
    What w0uld ease this pain would be a decent job!

    Too much to hope for?
    Apparently so……..

    Take care, Hannah.
    All good thoughts go to you and may you feel stronger, healthier, and happier every single day!

    Best wishes,
    samspade

    Reply
  117. Joshua Gregg

    Hey All,

    Very thoughtful blog and very useful information. Thanks for the posts and its been very good to read and see others with similar experiences.

    I spent 2 years living in Romania with The US Peace Corps and then back to the US briefly (8 months) then the next 3 1/2 years living and teaching in Japan. I returned to The US in April to Portland, OR. So I have some experience with reverse culture shock in my other stint back in the US but this time has been much harder. I learned early on with trips back to the US not to talk about my experiences abroad unless someone asks. I almost feel guilty telling peoplel I spent the past 4 years in Japan, like I am bragging about my life or something. So often times I don’t even tell random people if they ask where I am from I tell them my home town in The US.
    A hard thing for me was how I learned to live life in a haze, where I didn’t always understand the conversations around me and did very little interacting day to day in Japan. Now I am back in The US where people make small talk daily and I find myself having to relearn how to communicate with people in English, as odd as that may sound. The going from feeling important in Japan with a rock star persona where all the kids loves you to being an average Joe who can’t find a job and nobody cares about your experience is rough. But I’m headed back to school, just landed a job and feel daily more of a purpose of being here in PDX, even if I know only a few people.

    Thanks again for this blog, very useful for us Expats :)

    Cheers,

    Joshua in PDX

    Reply
  118. Niki

    Boy, I am glad to find this page. I returned from nearly 6.5 years in Asia back in March. I did 5 years in China and 1.5 in Korea. I hadn’t actually planned to come back to the states for several years, but the combination of a hagwon from hell and a knee injury led me to decide to come home.

    At first I was happy to be home. Korea can be horrible if you are stuck in a bad situation. My first year there hadn’t been great so I was giving it another go in the hopes that I was simply suffering from culture shock after living in China. Anyway, I was happy to be back in the US and to be able to rest. I had to use crutches outside the house while my knee healed. I found myself sleeping 12 hours a day. But I figured that was because I was so psychologically drained from my experiences in Korea. Then there was the sitting around, watching tv, and eating. I was somehow always hungry. I know I was missing the things I usually cooked in Korea.

    A month after I returned home, my best friend in Seoul also came home. After talking with her I realized we were both going through many of the things that have been mentioned here. But, again, I thought some of that might have been because of the way we left Korea. I had a broken contract and she was laid off. So we both feel that Korea is unfinished. I know I want to give it another try someday down the road.

    I also miss China tremendously. I feel like China showed me who I really am. I feel I lost some of that power and confidence in Korea. Being home, I almost feel like I can’t even be that strong person. I thrived in China. Here I survive.

    I have decided to go back to school, in a field which should provide me with a decent paycheck once I finish. I will hopefully be covered by a scholarship for all the coursework. At first, getting the scholarship was exciting and made me feel hopeful. But now I’m just feeling like school’s something I have to get through to get back to Asia. And even then, I’ll have to work and save as much as I can to make sure I won’t be poor when I go back. So I figure it will be 5 years maybe. And I just want to go now.

    I’m so out of sorts here and this rural southern backwater I live in so culturally blah. And while I’m an atheist, I’ve considered faking interest in hinduism and attending the only hindu temple in the area just to get my non–American fix. But I don’t like lying so I won’t.

    And of course, there is the job situation, or non-job to be precise. Once again rural backwater means high unemployment. Some counties here are 20+% jobless. So, like everyone else here, I am struggling to find work. Feeling worthless because I can’t find work is now compounded by my upcoming 20th reunion. All my classmates styed in the US. Many high school reunion. Many of my former classmates have fantastic jobs with all the benefits. And here I am…unemployed. I don’t even have the benefit of being under-employed, unless you count my sister giving me a few bucks to watch my niece. With no money coming in I really can’t refuse it, tho I hate taking it.

    I try to lift my spirits by thinking about all the people I’ve met and the places I’ve seen. However, success here is measured by your J-O-B, and not the crazy adventures you had overseas. Man I miss expat bitch sessions over cheap beer and meat stick bbq.

    Well, that’s my story. I’m in South Carolina so if there are any expats nearby I would love to meet you.

    Niki

    Reply
  119. Rebecca

    Wow I am so glad I have stumbled across this site!
    I am approaching the 4 year mark, currently living in South Korea and have worked at the same middle school in that whole time (I was VERY lucky). I have had ups and downs while living here, the feeling that your real life has been put on hold can be quite overwhelming – as friends back home settle down and build good careers and have nice houses, I couldn’t help but feel left behind….But I also felt I couldn’t return home until I had a good reason to. I left the UK 4 years ago as a new graduate so I had only ever really worked student jobs. Now I am planning to go back I get increasingly anxious and worried cause I have no idea what work I would actually want to do when I return…But at the same time I feel that I am wasting more time if I stay here. I keep putting off the date of my return using the excuse that finding work will be difficult – but I have decided that I should go back this coming March and I should really stick to that decision for my own sanity. In September 2011 I am planning to start university again and qualify for an actual career that is something I feel I would really enjoy – but I won’t find out until February until I have been accepted on this course. I spend almost every day changing my mind about when I should return – should I return in March or August? I know staying until August would only be for money – but March feels the right time to go as it’s at the end of the school year and I can see my students graduate. I also feel very disconnected from my own country and still dream to emigrate (once I have this new career under my belt I will leave again) – but staying until August would be for only money, and I feel ready to be around some familiarity again. Luckily my best friend has moved away from my home town to a new area I have never lived in – so I am going to live with her when I get back, in a completely new city. I know I could never retunr to my hometown ever again. Not that close to most of my friends anymore – we don’t have all that much in common! They have babies and mortgages and I have bizarre experiences abroad. My friend and I call this the ‘ESL Curse’ – I know I am never going to feel happy living in my home country and I hope to always have the opportunity and means to travel and work abroad – thought at the same time I would also like some security and a nice home with nice things, some stabilt. It’s so hard sometimes, yet at the same time I feel like the luckiest person in the world because I am not ‘trapped’ with a mortgage! I ask myself everyday will I be making a mistake going back – but I know I can’t live this way on yearly contracts forever!
    Sorry for the ramble everyone – just nice to get that all out! I’ve not even returned yet and I am already worrying about so much – especially about whether I will even get a job! I’ll only have 5 months from returning home beore my course starts in Sep – will I be able to find emplyment for such a short time? I’m from the UK. Well, I think I am going to take that risk cause it really feels like my time in Korea is done, and I feel too exhausted to go to another country and start all by myself again.

    Reply
  120. Justin

    Fantastic article, really hits it on the head, and the COMMENTS… just a breath of badly needed air for someone in the same situation.

    Just came back for my first extended stay home after 2 years in Korea, and after 2 months traveling SE Asia… after all the dynamism in the first half of the year, my traveling roadster slammed right into the guardrail of no job, no car, no public trans, and like the article said, routine things that normally would seem so exotic but now are just confusing.

    The biggest thing to cope with is trying to make time for friends, literally; everyone either works or has moved on with their lives from the point where you left them, in my case, just out of college, taking it nice and slow getting into a career, family, etc. Facebook is so beguiling in that it keeps you abreast of the main points of your friends’ ongoing lives, but the small chat in between is completely left out. MAN, it’s so overwhelming sometimes!

    I’m surprised it hasn’t come up after 2 years of comments, and of course it’s not exactly the same, but I’ve met some people coming back from the wars in the middle east and the feelings ring the same in a way — far off land, different language, routine things are completely turned on their head (in their case, so dangerous even), a group of people whom you get to know because they’re there and you are too — it’s hard to make sense of it all.

    Anyway, I hope the comments on this article go on for years, cause these problems aren’t going away!

    @Niki… whoah dude, Korea AND South Carolina here too. Columbia at all?

    Reply
  121. Niki

    Justin,

    I’m an hour away, just south of Orangeburg. I’m a Gamecock alum so I know the Cola area quite well.

    Reply
  122. Rebecca

    Justin – I’m thinking I know you as you just recently left SK – you found this article from my FB I think?

    I think you articulate it perfectly – the part about friends and how they’ve moved on etc. Good luck with settling back in! I’m not actually leaving until next March but I’m glad I have found this article prior to that – it helps me understand the anxieties I am feeling and WHY I am feeling them.

    Chin up! ;)

    Reply
  123. Michael

    I’ve been in China for three years. In that time, I’ve twice returned to Brisbane, Australia. It doesn’t seem strange to visit at all, but living there full-time might be a problem.

    I’ve lost contact with many friends, and they probably don’t even know that I’ve been away. My family has changed a bit too. My mother and father have retired from work and my brother has remarried. My brothers’ and sister’s kids have left school and started living independently.

    I don’t claim to have unique wisdom, but I’ve definitely changed my views on the world. The things that used to be really important to me are not so important now.

    I used to have a great income and job security. I ditched all that for my current experience.

    In China, foreigners are treated with great respect and curiosity. I know that when I return to Australia, I will be quite insignificant again, and I will also be a few years older.

    Yes, returning scares the hell out of me.

    Reply
  124. Jeff

    As with most everyone else I have found this post to be very helpful in coming to terms with what I thought was just unwarranted depression. I returned home to California a few months ago after living in Nigeria for about a year and a half. While I was there I thought everyday about how much I wanted to be home because of how difficult it was just to be there but now that I’m back in California I just want to return to Nigeria. It’s not helping that it’s been impossible for me to find work here. I’ve taken do doing small freelance jobs here and there but those are few and far between and definitely not enough to pay bills. I came back home because I wanted to be here to watch my niece grow up but I’m thinking that I’d rather she have an uncle she doesn’t know than have one that struggles to get by in life. I feel like I was foolish in thinking that I could get by here during this lousy economic climate but homesickness got the best of me. What’s funny is that I still don’t even feel like I’m home though, definitely don’t feel like I’m alive anymore. I just sort of feel like I’m going through the motions. I really hope things change soon. I know the whole issue of reverse culture shock would be easier on me if I wasn’t also worrying about making ends meet. Maybe I’ll just sell off all the things I regained from storage and head on back.

    Reply
  125. Jude

    Great words – enjoyed your write up immensely. I’m just about to head back to Australia for a visit – after another year of living in Taiwan. I’m rollercoastering between being ridiculously excited which involves jumping on my bed squealing, and fighting the memories that creep up from the depths – the last visit home which resulted in tears and confusion, and by the end of it, a feeling of having found my safehaven finally aboard a jumbo jet back across the ocean. It’s not easy – but this time I’m more aware of reverse culture shock. Somehow it having a name seems to make it all that more manageable! At the end of the day, I think maybe it’s sometimes about remembering to love your friends and family for who they are. Controlling your emotions and choosing your reactions to all the situations your encounter. After all, the world isn’t going to stop revolving for you!

    Reply
  126. Malola

    Oh, geezus’
    Por dios… T-T
    I just read this… and it’s gonna come, right??
    So; far I’ve been in Japan since late January… and I absolutely LOVE the place. It’s so beautiful in so many ways.
    I’m a student and I must complete two semesters in here; one done, one to come.
    It was sad to say good-bye to my friends (my soul siblings, I called them)… one by one… at the airport; but, it didn’t really matter ‘cus I’m still in Japan…!!
    Talking to my friends and reading these comments I can’t help but think that RCS is gonna kick me in the ass…
    エクアドルに帰りたくないの。=P
    I’m glad that my closest friends went through this before me… I already told them that it’s possible that I’ll cry my heart out to him vía Skype when I return… =P
    In any case… I’ll enjoy Japan at the fullest… and when I go back to my country, I’ll be extra-nice to the foreigners that I meet… ;D

    Reply
  127. Mona

    There are other dimensions to reverse culture shock, and im going through it now.
    I wrote on this forum before,about my situation of returning to my native Canada after some 14+ years of being away in Europe and the US.
    I got married to an Italian citizen in august 2009,then after months of waiting for my Italian visas and documents, I left for Italy this past february,and after the yearning of returning back to Europe, I now live in Italy and am hating every minute of it. The lifestyle here is so restricting,things are hard to get to,shops are always closed at the times I want to buy,but thats not the worst part,the people are mean,unwelcoming,indifferent,and either pretend I dont exist or constantly stare at me with this negative,hateful sneer,and I dont understand why they will just never accept me,I am married to an Italian for heavens sake! So we have decided,after much contemplation, on going to Canada, my husband loves the idea,but part of me,allthough I am relieved to be getting out of this backwards country,I will be once again returning to the place I was trying to leave and make something of myself in the first place. My husband says not to worry,that we will return back to Europe once he learns English,and from there go to London,but seeing Canada again, the place in which I grew up, will be eerie and make me feel like im once again in a rut…sigh…im really running out of places to go now…:-(….at least in Canada,though,people are alot more civilized…

    Reply
  128. lilone

    I have JUST arrived back into the UK and wow what a shock. initially I loved it and now I just feel, well stuck!!

    This post captured how I felt exactly, and gave fabulous advise!

    Thankyou!!!

    xx

    Reply
  129. Ed

    This is a very enlightening website. Our family of four just returned from 4 years in Germany and I am going through everything that has been mentioned above.

    One part of the discussion I have not seen is how much this can aso affect children. Our 8 year old is having a very hard time adjusting too, and expressing herself. After reading all this, now I know I am just not crazy, and that our child is experiencing the same feelings.

    So just a heads up to those who move back, this could also be affecting your family members too. Good Luck to all of us!

    Reply
  130. lilone

    Hey there and thanks ed!!!

    Yer its getting easier in some ways but is crazy in others!!!!

    I feel like I cant really relate to people… cant comprehend the need to gossip and negativety after my experiences!!

    Any advise on how to get though it… other then isolating myself???? (I understand that this is something that I have chosen to do and not something that the article recommened – however I feel it kind of keeps me sane!!!) I have an awful feeling of not belonging anywhere! Constantly feeling out of place! and well just not right…

    i think the thing that i struggle with the most is the fact the people seem to feel the need to give me their opinion about everything that i do…or is that just me?

    Mmm my situation is that i have travelled for the majority of the last two years… everything from America to India… i really ‘got to know myself’…so i came home about three weeks ago and it feels strange… everything has changed yet nothing has changed! i feel differnt in my circle of friends and feel some what judged and like people are observing me like I am mmmm well wierd!

    xx

    Reply
  131. Mona

    I have such mixed feelings about going back to Canada…when Im away from it in a place like this, i miss it…when i get there, ill probably be relieved for a while,but then,i get hit with “reverse culture shock” which is what i am fearing right now…that is the overwhelming shock feeling of returning back to your homeland, and feeling completely rootless ,lost and stuck,.dont know if youve ever experienced it, but its really wierd ,cause you grow so much as a person, but when you come back, you see that nobody else has changed, just time, people move on, they buy houses get married,advance in jobs,and when you get there and realise that people you have known almost becomes strangers and you dont fit into local society,you end up feeling depressed ,like youre at ground zero and everyone has gotten somewhere with their lives…when you live in a foreign country, you experience the newness of the culture and the land,and as a person,you grow,its almost like being on a constant high, and then when you go back to your native land, its like the highness has been replaced with dullness,mundaneness and confusion…suddenly youre in an emotional rut,and everything seems to surreal..thats reverse culture shock…and its worse than regular culture shock.. .

    .as much as i hate italy, and i do, i have grown accustomed to living here miserably to the point that it has become a unhappy niche that i almost in a sick sort of way,will almost miss…i know that sounds strange, but its true…clearly there is no future here for my husband or me,but living here for all this time in boredom and deprivation has almost given me a sentimental attachment to my sadness,which i dont see as the healthiest state of mind to be in…i am praying that over time, these feelings will dissolve and i can return to a progrssive mindset…my husband will be with me, so i am going to do my best to see Ottawa in his eyes, which i know for him will be a great experience…and its funny too, that when youve lived abroad for so many years, you are no longer North American,European or what have you, but you are also all of them too!

    -this is a copy and paste from an email that I wrote to my friend about my re-entry shock situation

    Reply
  132. Amelie

    Great article, greats comments… Mona, I have such the same feelings towards Canada, when I’m gone I miss it and everytime I come back, I feel stuck, rushed, I feel like I don’t fit….

    I am now fully experimenting my 5th reverse cultural shock and I am sick of it. I knew it was going to happen. I though I was over that now, that I was ready to go back home and start something here, I actually spend the last two months in India preparing myself for the return, but now it look worst then ever.

    It is so good to read you guys, to feel I am not alone experiencing this is awesome. I am not going insane:)

    But has any of you ever totally recovered from this? I mean, the reason I can function right now in this moment is the fact that I am projecting myself in the future in a year or two when I will have enough money to set up something small abroad… Is this delusion you think?

    Anyway, let’s keep encouraging each other, that is really beneficial…

    Big love and good thoughts to all of you

    Reply
  133. Mona

    I often like to peruse the internet and look for ways to deal with reentry shock ,heres a great one right from the same site: http://www.vagabondish.com/embrace-reverse-culture-shock/

    Im coming back to Canada after living in italy, for an accumulated amount of 2 years, and no, definitely not the first time I have had to deal with reverse culture shock…if i counted all the times iv’e had to “come back” to Canada, this will be the sixth…and I am sick of it too..and Amlelie, you’re not alone on this, nor are your ideas of planing your future abroad delusional…:)

    I know what to expect when I get to Ottawa, but at the same time, after living in italy, what I do to help me cope with returning to my homeland , is all the things that I hate about living in italy,and there are plenty..when I am in Canada I will think about how polite Canadians are and treat each other in a civilised and respectful manner, in comparison to this part of the world, or how much more accepting people are of foreigners compared to where I am now, or how much personal space there is, nature, freedom to do what you want when you want, variety of food in the grocery stores, heating in the winter, AC in the summer, running water at all times,not be stuck in a mosquito infested hospital room after painful surgery and getting tortured for 18 hours and not be given painkillers because they are “illiegal in italy” and being treated like a nuisance by the nurses every time I buzz for help, or getting my passport thrown at me whenever i cross into italy by Canada and form lines in public places instead of pushing and never saying sorry, or getting raped in milan and reporting to the police ,who dont take it seriously unless the perpetrator was romanian or tunisian and denying that their own people could ever do such a crime…or not having to hang up my clothes outside and have italian neighbours stare, point and give dirty looks to that “straniera”, (foreigner) , being able to converse with Canadians and not feel like I am always excluded from the culture as I am here in this very clannish society, or not having to look at all the stray dogs and cats either walking around the streets or dead on the side of the road, who were once somebodys pets but are now abandoned, and nobody caring….

    .i think of how angry I am about how many unsuccessful attempts I have made in the past 2 years to try and befriend the people here in my husbands country, completely unreciprocated on thier part,and always being judged on how I dress and contemptuously graded based on my accent,and the kind of shoes I wear ( if you dont wear metallic gold “hogan” brand running shoes tight,ill-fitting jeans and wispy trendy hair,youre automatically outcasted out of the clan lol) and how terrible and lonely I feel for not being accepted as an equal here either by the public, my husbands friends or his family, and then I think to myself, Canada is not such a bad place afterall!..

    But it is clear that I have changed…im not fully north American, nor am i fully European and coming back will be odd, and will feel like ive gone back in time to a “twilight zone” existance,there are a few things as well that help me from feeling stuck in a time warp.. 1. my eu permit, and 2. bringing back a piece of Europe (my husband) …

    Also,coping with the huge change , I look for things that are in relation to where I was (Europe) like going to a Swiss bakery , attending int’l film fesitvals and mingling with European expatriots, staying in contact with friends abroad on facebook, looking for jobs where youd be working with travel (ie airlines, tour guide, foreign afffairs govt jobs etc) but heck…after living in this “boot” and suffering emotionally from isolation (not my choice obviously) ,Canada seems like a warm hug from the frigid shunning of bella italia..

    So all I can say is look at all the positive things back in the civilised pit, cause there are lots…we tend to take alot of things for granted, but i have a feeling that this time I wont be!

    best,

    Mona

    Reply
  134. lilone

    k i feel like i am going in sane!!

    soooo much negativitely and am struggling to be in ‘my monent’!!!

    Any advise???

    Is anyone else feeling this way? and does it really ever end?

    I feel like a fish out of water ….arrrrrrrghhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

    Reply
  135. Joan

    Hi Lilone,

    I wanted to reply to your post specifically: Yeah, it does feel like you’re going insane. But it DOES get better, in time. You just have to kind of live through a pretty painful time.

    There are things that can help you during that awful time, really. Like burying yourself in anything you’re really into, from reading to cooking to art or working out, anything, just as long as it’s something you really like. Keeping in touch or meeting people from not where you’re from, etc.

    It does get better with time. You do end up forever changed in what you know about the world and people, etc, but the difference is that constant raw ache will no longer be there.

    Best of luck, and you’re not alone in this.

    Reply
  136. Mona

    I’d like to add….another way I tend to rationalize about coming back to North America, is to take into consideration how much the world has globalized with its chain business takeovers,internet based communication between people,and Mcdonalds on every corner…to the point that those interesting little differences between countries that once were are no longer,and that we are becoming one big country..no not absolutely everything, but much of the distinctions that created the excitement of travelling in the unknown is gone,in favour of a more globalized and Americanized culture…thats when I say to myself at times, “whats the difference? Might as well be in North America,we have those things already!”

    Reply
  137. Amber

    WOW! I’m returning to this page a year later and seeing all the responses that have been added since! I still think about India every day and CAN’T wait to sell everything and do it all again! :) good luck to everyone & thanks for your support!

    Reply
  138. Mona

    One thing I wonder about the symptoms of reverse culture shock, is whether it could be explained scientifically?

    Sometimes it almost feels like the travel addiction is some sort of constant “high”,as if it were some sort of feel good drug,then when you return home, the high is gone, and you’re left with this pleasureless,drab feeling,and all you can think about is your next departure…jonesing for another travel adventure!

    Travel is like a pleasurable drug,and returning home we experience the withdrawl symptoms!

    Reply
  139. lilone

    thanks for your messages!!!

    sooo i have been back two months and things feel like they are getting harder?? every wher i go i fee that i have links to the past and i either feel surrounded and suffocated by people or lonely on my own. i think i averange at about 2 good days per week and everyother day feels like a struggle!!!

    i am trying to do more of what i am interested in but my motivation is low! mad… i had culture shock before and it was never like this… always quite positive!!!

    i hope you guys are doing ok!!?

    Reply
  140. Nick

    I studied for a masters degree at the University of Leeds in the UK (one year) and just returned a day or so back to my native land India.
    It’s been a very depressing 24 hours so far. After a whole year of clean roads, traffic signs, big and spacious buses, rock FM radio, awesome clubs and bars, a great student union, friendly people and great weather, it feels like I’m trapped back at home. I’m having difficulty sleeping at the right times and my appetite has taken a hit. I regret having coming home. If it weren’t for my grandparents here, I would have decided to go back immediately.
    I hope that this reverse culture shock phases out quickly.

    Reply
  141. Amelie

    Hey everyone!

    Mona, I think you’ve got a point here. Travelling is so intense and you’re constanly on an adrenaline high, release by your body I asume…Then you’re back home, safe, secure, no challenges, adrenaline’s gone….Of course it is depressive!

    Lilone I am so with you! I came back one month ago and I am having a very hard time. I so know what you mean by “suffocating” … I had few reverse cultural shock before and I don’t know if this is the worst I had so far, but I knew it was going to happen so I found a full-time job while beeing a full-time university student. I must say it works to keep yourself busy, last week I though it was over, because I was busy everyday of the week.

    But right now, on my day off, gezz, I just feel horrible…But writing it here right now without feeling judge is really helping me so thanks readers!

    I also think it can be worst if you were travelling alone with no one back home to explain what you’ve been through… the only thing that really make me feel good is to write e-mail to friends I met abroad and spent some time with…

    Good luck everyone

    Reply
  142. marmalade.ca » Blog Archive » BC was awesome. Now what?

    […] For the first time in about three years, I have no BIG PLANS looming ahead of me. For so long it was all about New Zealand, and then it was all about the Trip Home (through Australia, Thailand and South Korea). Now, I have only a big empty canvas that is just begging to have paint splashed on it. I’ve been home six months now and it feels like Ive accomplished nothing. Im bored. The reality is not as stark (Id landed a well-paying job, a great apartment, gone on several camping trips, plus my recent  17-day West Cost trip all being  great examples), but it just feels that way. Reverse culture shock has got me in its grips, and at times it’s really hard to differentiate between a burning desire to pack up and move to the other side of the country and general repatriation blues. “Reverse culture shock” is the name people give to that feeling of not fitting in to your home country, and you’re especially at risk of it if you return home after living abroad for an extended time. — Vagabondish […]

    Reply
  143. Dave

    I have lived outside of the US for the last 10 years. Tomorrow, I move back. I have never been so sad in my whole life. I can’t even write this email.

    Reply
  144. Mark

    My first experience with reverse culture shock is when I went down to Cancun for a 2 week vacation. You don’t realize how FAT most Americans are until you leave the country.

    Reply
  145. Anon

    I have been teaching in South Korea for 2.5 years. Both times I visited home i felt like a foreigner in my own city. i feel like i have nothing in common with a lot of the people there anymore and they annoy me quite a bit for some reason. to make matters worse, i am pregnant and the father is Korean, so I feel like Korea is with me forever. I can’t imagine just going home, having my baby, finding a job, meeting a South African man and that’s that. I will most likely end up returning to Korea once the baby is about a year or 2! Sometimes I think I will end up staying here forever! *^^*

    Reply
  146. Bianca

    Yes,,I feel like a stranger after returning back to Chicago.I spent 5 years working in Saudi Arabia,going to exotic places for the week end,like Nepal,Dubai,Cairo.I miss all of that.My job here is soo boring and people really do not care about your adventures.

    Reply
  147. Yukiko

    I have been struggling to find the spot I can fit since I am back in Japan from 6years life in US. I never expected the reverse culture shock is so hard. Japanese people especially do not say their thoughts straight. Communication way is very different in US. People are more optimistic and have lots of fun, Japanese are sometimes too serious! I am finally getting used to live in my own culture, but my heart is still in US, I would love to go back to visit to refresh my mind! :)

    Reply
  148. Niki

    Well, I’m six months into it now. I’m going to school and I’m under-employed and living with my parents. I depend on them for a car and gas money since I am lucky if I get 15 hours at my job paying minimum wage. I get through the day knowing my two best friends are going through the same issues, which helps, but also makes me sad that we are all so out of sorts even as we try to get on with life back in the US. I miss my life as an ESL teacher in Asia. At least there I could afford to go to the doctor and the dentist. I felt rewarded when my students used the skills I had taught them. And I could afford to travel to interesting places several times a year. Now excitement is travelling to the Asian market an hour away, praying I will run into someone Chinese who will talk to me. I can only hope that things will get better after I earn my degree and hopefully find a well-paying job with benefits. I know that ‘normalizing’ is part of re-entry, but if this life of struggle is normal I want no part of it.

    Reply
  149. Michelle

    i am so glad i found this and found other ppl who also can relate to what i was going tho. After 4 year in germany, coming back to australia hit me hard – i withdrew, was distant, i felt like ppl where attacking me, so i was also critical and defensive. Its only now 5 weeks out of australia (I moved to Vancouver) that i can look back and reflect on my severe case of reverse culture shock – at the time i never knew what was goin on with me. Its a pity tho, cause i felt like i lost a lot of ppl from it all :(

    Reply
  150. Evan

    Thanks for this and all the comments. I found out today that I will be returning to Australia after living for nine years in the UAE. I am aware of reverse culture shock as I have experienced it three times before. The longest I lasted in Australia was four years and during that time I studied and tried to change my career (I am a teacher). Now, however, I have been made redundant and an application to my old college has been rechecked by the ‘Personnel Committee’, despite being passed at interview and being allocated a position. Over the last nine years I travelled home to Sydney for the long summer break and did all the things that would be ‘normal’, even taking the train during rush hour. I made sure I kept in touch with my friends and what’s happening in Australia. I have sorted out a job there and I have a house there, but I still think about the move back with trepidation. I knew I would have to return, but I wanted to do it on my own terms, not by having someone cross my name off a list. Still, if I hadn’t been pushed, I would have stayed in what has become a ‘velvet rut’.

    Reply
  151. Apple82

    Hi everybody! I am so glad to have found this page and I would like to thank you all for you honest posts and tell you how much I agree. I have returned form the UK after 3 1/2 years and I was absolutely not prepared for a reverse cultural shaock at all. I though I would be okay, I expected to feel that everything would be a little different and that some things will annoy me but nothing like what happend. I thought I’d just be happy to be back home. But no! I think I have never been so depressed in my life! People have changed. People I used to be close to don’t get how I tick anymore and especially I don’t get how they tick anymore! I have lived a different lifestyle, developed different values, different ideas about myself and about what live should be like. I feel a bit like I have a life here and a life there, but ony having one of them just scares me. I really don’t know what I am going to do, weather I will return or stay here, at the moment I feel more like returning. I totally understand that some of you say that you felt attacked by people being back, I felt everybody was being incredibly rude and mean after coming back and felt really lonely eventhough being surrounded by people. And the worst nobody understands how you feel! But luckily we have pages like that and there are others who have experienced the same so we can support each other. All the best to everybody, keep posting xxx

    Reply
  152. Celia

    With so many comments over YEARS this is obviously a BIG problem for expats! and my family and I are about to join when we return to Aus after 6.5 years in China.
    We have 2 girls, 12 and 16, and we’re already thinking about the reverse shock and how to get through it.
    I’m going to find/start a group for returned expats, so we can support each other, as well as meet more interesting people.
    Mona, I totally agree with the idea of “Travel is like a pleasurable drug,” (adrenaline), living on the edge… and the withdrawals we have afterwards.
    My thoguhts are with everyone going through this!

    Reply
  153. Tate

    It has now been 3 months since I returned to the UK after 10 years of living and working in Japan. I admit that my timing could have been better as I returned just in time to experience one of the worst winters on record and also to watch the job market take a severe downturn in the last few months of the year. My waking hours are plagued by a feeling of “Jamais vu” – that feeling of knowing you have been here before and yet everything feeling strange and uncomfortable. At night I vividly walk the streets of Tokyo in my dreams only to awaken to the cold reality of another melancholic morning. I know getting a job would help me integrate back into this society but unfortunately the economy has decided not to play ball.

    However the comments on this website have helped me tremendously… it is interesting to read that many are trying to escape from the very places that others are so desperately wishing to get back to. I guess that just shows that there is no perfect place in the world only what we as individuals value most. Anyway it is comforting to realize I am not alone with this peculiar affliction…

    Reply
  154. Mickey

    Hello,

    I am desperately depressed and realise what i have is reverse culture shock,

    Have been living with my boyfriend in Israel for 2 years, we just broke up so returned to Australia,

    It wasn’t easy in Israel but being in Australia is worse, i feel so isolated and far away from the rest of the world,

    My boyfriend in Israel said i needed to decide if i wanted to live in israel for the rest of my life because he would never move anywhere else, i couldn’t decide, so we broke up for now to make up our minds for sure,

    I feel there is no culture in Australia, so bored and feel my life has no meaning anymore,

    Thanks for the website, it helps me see i am not alone in this.

    Reply
  155. Jamie

    It is reassuring to know you’re not the only one. I don’t feel the emotional connection and loss as much as the instant loss of “having a life.” It was great having a full-time teaching position with no other cares in the world where all the locals admired my English abilities. Suddenly, I’ve come back jobless in a small town living with my parents. For a few weeks I felt I was somehow entitled to a great job and was not one of these unemployed millions….. now I’ve become a simple unemployed statistic. My cool adventures and travels have been forgotten as I hang my head, lose my pride, and oo tasks like shoveling snow or picking up things from the shop.

    I would like to stay in America and work on a career, but it’s looking like my options more likely teaching again or working in tele-marketing or insurance sales.

    Reply
  156. Sam Spade

    I am back in the States (lovely northwestern Oregon) and, of course, I miss more than a few things about my life in Bangkok (however, I do not miss the air pollution, water pollution, noise pollution, horrific overcrowded roads, and pesky streetside vendors monopolizing all the walk space).

    How to make it back home?
    Well, 80% of all job openings are NEVER advertised.
    How to score a decent job?
    Join a fraternal lodge, join a church group, join a charitable organization.
    Then something like this will happen:
    One of your co-members will approach you and say:
    “I’ve heard you are looking for a paying job. My brother-in-law/mother/friend/etc. is retiring soon at XYZ Company. Would you like me to put in ‘the word’ for you?”

    Yes, that is how it works.
    Yes, it sounds like a hassle for people like ME who are NON-JOINERS.
    Does it pay to network?
    Yes, tremendously.

    Have heart, apply yourself, and keep up your good spirits.
    If it does not work out, then head back overseas.
    Been there, done that, and now I’m back here and it’s cool.

    Take care!

    Reply
  157. DragoPanda

    Hi everyone,

    I stumbled across this page when googling ‘reverse culture shock’ as I will be returning to my home country in 3 weeks. At the moment I am living in Seoul, South, Korea. I have lived here 2.5 years. I have also lived in New Zealand for 4 months back in 2005. I have also travelled to Thailand for one week and Mauritius for 8 days.
    I am not even back home yet and I have all these negative perceptions of what things will be like. Just talking to my parents on the phone can be draining for me because I cannot relate to them and their way of thinking anymore. To make matters worse, I am pregnant which is the reason I am returning home. I actually resigned from my job to give birth back home because I feel my living situation here is not what I want for my child and I just couldn’t see myself doing it alone here since it’s my first baby. I have had a relationship with a Korean man for the past year and 3 months which is unresolved but I won’t get into that too much except to say it’s complicated. My younger sister has also experienced the world, she has travelled to over 60 countries and lived in Mauritius for about 9 months altogether and is returning in the coming weeks to work there on a 2 year contract. Her boyfriend is from there as well. I usually speak to her when I call home because she can relate to my feelings. She told me that my parents question why she hasn’t found a guy in our hometown and I feel as if they expect me to do the same (I thought it was a pretty dumb question!). My baby is 50% Korean and I feel it will be one more thing people will not understand. They make stupid mistakes like referring to Chinese instead of Korean (a whole other country and nation!) and I am guessing many people will make that mistake over and over. People have already made stupid comments to my mom, one person even asked how I could have a child by an Asian man!!!! Another said something about what Korean people are like but this person has never even been here!
    I don’t really want to live in my home country but with a baby on the way returning to Korea will be harder, it’s not impossible but it’s definitely going to be a challenge since I am not married. I have thoughts about returning here in 2012….
    I heard that my dad is asking questions about how I can just have a baby and then want to leave again. (But he wasn’t happy when i returned here for my 2nd year let alone my 3rd). I just struggle to see myself settling down like everyone else with a guy from my community with a half-Asian baby and just be stuck in a place I don’t want to be! It’s such a weird feeling because I really wanted to get out of here but at the same time I don’t want to go home. *sigh

    Reply
  158. eL C.

    Unlike most of you, I am a 30-year-old guy from Taiwan. After 2 years serving in Taiwanese army and 7 years of study and work in the US, I have returned home at last, giving up my visa and everything for a new job in Shanghai offered by a Taiwanese company. However, I found myself deeply disoriented at home, and the worst part is, as we know, there’s no one to talk to, including my own family.

    I chatted with my old buddy in the State online today and learned the word “Reverse Culture Shock.” I finally know what’s wrong with me other than my new accent.

    The big issue is, I got married in 09 and my wife is Chinese who speaks fluent English like I do, and we blended in really well in the State, like normally you wouldn’t notice we were foreign, but we were legit foreigners. We love everything about our life in US (except for health insurance), and a year later, I decide to take the offer in Shanghai cause the economy struck my business really hard and I don’t know how much longer it can hang on. So we talked for a while and finally agreed. We tossed our belongings, our cute apartment, my car, and lots of memories last Christmas (our anniversary) for this new opportunity. So here I am, 6-month training in Taiwan is all it takes. She went back to China instead cause she can’t come to Taiwan yet simply because she’s Chinese.

    Being home and bored for the first month, I tried to pick up some old hobbies one day. I drove around to find some shops, but I got so lost. Called an old friend who said he doesn’t know that area well cause he hasn’t gone there for many years, and he got married btw! The GPS system is just retarded to me. I threw it out of the window. No, I didn’t, jk but I tried! Called my mom but got her answer, “How could possibly you get lost? You’re home!” She thinks I’m finally with the family. But I really wanted to tell her, “Mom, I had a family in the State; I had a wife and a home. I had friends and a great life. But now it’s all gone. I am nothing here. I don’t even exist!” I didn’t say that though cause that would hurt… or I was too upset to say a word. I guess as a guy depression tends to lead to anger?

    Last week I had my first Chinese New Year with at my grandparents in a decade. They were really close to me and they are gone while I being away. The house is empty but us. New Year felt so different from how it used to be when I was a kid just as many other things. Honestly I never thought I’d be back living here again, and now the only person who can prove my existence for the past decade is my wife, and she is not here nor belong here. I only remember I said to her, “No matter what the outcome is, I will see you in Shanghai.” Because Shanghai will be our new hope, hopefully a new place we will call home.

    That keeps me rolling, and I hope for the best for all of you!

    Reply
  159. Carmen

    Mamy thanks for sharing your experiences. I just found out that what I am currently suffering has a name. I have been crying and missing people all these weeks. I am Peruvian British meaning that I was born in Peru but just came back after 20 years living in the UK.
    I never thought that it would take me sometime to adapt to my country again!!
    Thanks again.
    Carmen

    Reply
  160. drean

    It’s really nice to find this post! I’ve been traveling for the last 4 years, moving places every 6 months. All this has left me completely exhausted, lost and without any friends or belongings. I’m still abroad in Europe wondering if I should come back or not. For me, moving every six months was an effort to try and avoid my actual drop from the honeymoon phase. Now I’m facing it big time and not enjoying it. I met my boyfriend-at-that-point in canada, and when his visa expired he invited me to london. Since then we got married to be able to stay together (visas only got us so far), I’m not even sure if I still want to be with him, or where I want to stay. So confused…

    Reply
  161. Hannah

    I happened to find this great article when I was googling “reverse culture shock” also! It has been nearly 3 years since I left for Poland to be a Rotary exchange student. It was the best year of my life. However, it was such a hard time coming back to America and adjusting. I am noticing spurts, like now, in which I still go through big cases of reverse culture shock. It was so nice to read the article and know that people understand to and can relate to how I feel. Sometimes it is a relief, even when you understand that your good friends just cannot comprehend what you have gone through.

    Reply
  162. katy

    I’m currently living in Japan, teaching English. I started to feel like it was maybe time to go home. So, in August, after 2 years, I’ll return home. To be honest, I’m not sure why I made this decision. Now, all I want to do is stay here. It’s good to read about reverse culture shock now. Has anyone found it easy to adjust to being home?

    Reply
  163. Mookamook

    Katy,
    After 4 years in Thailand, I had the urge to go back stateside. It seemed like a disaster when I returned, I ran back to Thailand and freaked out again. Luckily I have friends and family that were able to support me financial through my insanity.
    I didn’t pressure myself to be “productive”, I actually had a lovely year back home which gave me the strength to methodically explore my options. I chose to teach in Saudi Arabia. After 2 months, I’m still really feeling I’m on an even keel. I feel great.
    My advice to anyone suffering the real effects of RCS to force yourself to practice “extreme self care”. Focus on your body and mental hygiene, live in the moment, and don’t allow yourself to feel forced to “fit in”.
    I think that one big cause of RCS is unrealistic expectations of yourself and others.
    All the best, Mark

    Reply
  164. PJ

    I just came across this website and am comforted to know that there are others out there like me… But it’s truly an awful feeling. I’m 28 years old and I just came back to the US after nearly 6 years in Paris. I am extremely depressed and don’t know what to do. I have no one to talk to because my friends and family do not understand. I feel like so much has changed with my friends in the US, and at the same time, life goes on for my friends in France. I feel like I’m floating between two worlds and will never get over this….

    Reply
  165. SusanD

    Heading back to UK, country of my birth after 22 years in 5 countries (Asia, US and Australia). Had no intention of living there again but circumstances mean I will have to. I went back there after just one year away (waaay back when) and suffered everything I am reading about in everyone’s posts. Of course back then there was no internet so i just thought I was being weird and left the country as soon as I could make it happen, in a desperate need to escape. So now, wiser, older and I thought i had a handle on culture shock, and living anywhere but I am ridiculously scared of feeling like I did before when I went “home”. Is it possible that we become accustomed to being foreigners in another country and actually feel more comfortable in that role? i think I do. Also, going back gives me the feeling of failing somehow elsewhere. I was planning to look at my return more as just another posting (I am certain it won’t be permanent) but already old friends talk about it as if I am “coming back” as if somehow my other life (of 22 years!) didn’t work out. All these feelings making me feel like the rug has been pulled out from underneath my feet, when in any other place on earth, I feel comfortable and confident.

    Thanks for sharing everyone, just reading all this has helped. I will try to beat it!

    Reply
  166. samspade

    I taught ESL in Bangkok for two years, on and off.
    The air/water/noise pollution really wore me down.
    Also, I did get tired of being a stranger in a strange land.
    Now, I am back in Oregon, USA and, of course, enjoying the good and realizing everything is not good.

    I’m working outside my field of Education and not liking it all that well (I’m working a sales job). I can probably get fairly good gigs as a substitute/supply teacher but I fear that the impermanence of that will affect my finances badly. Career teaching positions are very sparse here but I will apply for them when they become available.

    All in all, my feelings about coming home are very mixed. I enjoy the overall cleanliness, orderliness, and rules of law here. I miss some nice people in Thailand.

    It’s a mixed bag. I can’t be totally happy there and I can’t be totally happy in my own nation.

    I don’t have any answers, unfortunately.
    I just take things day-to-day at this time.

    Best wishes to everyone here on this board.
    I hope you find happiness.
    I’m still searching.

    Reply
  167. Carmen castro mortara

    Hi there,

    It is nice to know that there are other people in the same boat and that you are not alone! I am back in Lima Peru after 20 years living in UK.
    It is quite difficult to fit in and it is worse when you can not find a job related to your profession.
    In my case, it seems that I am overqualified therefore have not been called for interviews.
    I should keep positive and enjoy the nice things that my country offers.
    We just need patience.
    All the best,
    Carmen

    Reply
  168. still searching

    It is a shame that the people who find and read this website have already moved back to their home country. By this time, the RCS has set in and they are up at 2AM searching for answers.

    It would be better if people knew to possibly expect RCS before they move and then they could prepare better.

    One word of advice: At all costs try to avoid moving back to the same setting (town and job) that you left. It is like moving back to your parents house after going to university and trying to find things in common with your high school friends. This is not meant as a snobby comment, only we need to recognize that WE have changed and what made us happy before will probably not work for us now.

    Good luck to everyone!
    Still searching after 9 months

    Reply
  169. Niki

    There is light in the tunnel.

    I am now at the end of my second semester studying for a degree in the power industry. I have been back from Asia for one year and 24 days. While I still think about Asia everyday, and I still long to go back, life back home is getting easier.

    My best friend is also enjoying life more. She was in Asia for four years. She recently got into the grad school of her choice and we will finally be back in the same time zone.

    I think the key to our surviving this past year was focusing on something new. My BFF focused on getting into grad school and I focused on learning something outside my liberal arts forte.

    Do I still wish I had the lifestyle I enjoyed in Asia? Sure, but it is getting easier to be an American-at-home again. I also recognize that the people and places I loved so much have changed in my absence, so even if I go back it won’t be the same. I am learning to look forward now, instead of always looking back. I wouldn’t say I’m happy, but I am no longer miserable and depressed.

    When I first came home I felt trapped here. Now I feel like I am going in the right direction towards a life of even more options than I had in Asia…though I hope those options will include a return to Asia, if only for short holidays.

    So don’t give up hope. Life as a returnee does get better, though it will take time. Remember that leaving the life you had abroad is similar to mourning a loved one. You have to grieve for that life before you will be able to move forward in your life at home, so give yourself the time to grieve.

    Good luck everyone!

    Reply
  170. Anony Mous

    Indeed – am experiencing reverse culture shock too – after returning to Sydney after 15 years in the UK.

    The first big thing for me is how cold the houses are in Sydney in winter…..and its not even winter yet. Bought a thermometer to test the bedroom I am in and its 16 degrees ! – I was warmer in my flat in London in winter with central heating in every room, which is what Australian property lacks. There may be one room which has a gas/electric heater and every other room is like a fridge and is uncomfortable to be in. This aspect has surprised me.

    The helmet law for cyclists also bothers me – in Europe they let you to make your own decision on this point. Apart from those bugbears, lots of differences to get used to – and I can’t really judge my return to Sydney life until I have got a job and my own flat and social life happening – then I can judge if I will be able to fit back in and enjoy things here.

    Now just about to go and buy a winter doona so I don’t freeze in the “lucky country” !!

    Reply
  171. Home to Australia

    I am returning home to Sydney in 2 weeks after 3 years in Paris. (yes anony mous – central heating is noticeably absent in Aus. and you cant leave the room with the ‘heater on’) I am devastated about leaving my home in Paris and have started saying goodbye to my favourite Parisian sites. I am even wondering if I have time to make a quick trip to Italy – as Europe becomes the place of your weekend jaunts. As the postcard says that I picked up in Australia on my last trip ‘home’ – “Australia it’s a bloody long way…” From trips back once a year – your friends in your home country dont want to hear of your life and it does sound like your bragging – so now I am going home – leaving my partner in France, so alone and have to find a job, accommodation, re-connect with friends that have moved on and changed…

    Know I am going to be a blubbing mess when my plane takes off at CDG. Paris is my home and I dont want to leave it. One day at a time eh?

    Bon chance fellow returnees. It is so hard.

    Reply
  172. Anony Mous

    I can also recommend if you are returning back to your home country after a long period abroad, that you don’t return back to your family home. I did this – and I think it is a negative step. It is nice to come back and be with family and have a room to stay with no hassle – but then you miss the benefits of your own space, independence – and you can become a bit lazy. Whilst my job search has not been successful yet – I think I would be more pro-active if I was living away from family right now.

    Another point, living in the outer suburbs in Sydney is just dire. You are so far away from things, that you just do less. When I lived in London, I was 20 minute cycle from the centre of London – and now I am a 20 minute walk to the nearest railway station !

    The cold houses still bother me – for me this means most properties in Sydney have uncomfortable room temperatures for about 5 months of the year – I have to work out whether I can live like this !

    Having being away for 15 years, I am still not yet on the same wavelength when having conversations with people – it just seems a bit awkward and weird at the moment – basically not comfortable. And perhaps to them I also seem a little strange – i do feel that whenever I walk into a shop/cafe etc that people can tell “he’s not from these parts”…….

    All these feelings could be that I am not really at home back at home just yet…..if I don’t settle then it means this is not the place to be.

    Reply
  173. Miss A

    I’ve been back in England for 2 weeks and I feel so miserable. I have no job and no money.
    I was in Asia for 4 months, and I felt like I had really grown up. Although I was nervous about coming back I felt I’d learnt enough while I was away to be able to make my life into some thing I wanted it to be, but that’s not the way its working out. I cant get a job, I really didn’t want to have to ask for my old job back because I hate it but I think I will have to. And there’s a good chance they won’t take me back, which will mean I’ll have to claim benefits from the government.
    I feel totally worthless and depressed, which is the complete opposite from the way I felt when I was travelling. Rather than coming back to a new life as a different person, I am slowly slipping back into my old life, only its a worse, more depressing version.
    I’ve never felt like this before in my life, and as much as I try and snap out of it I just cant. I have a horrible sinking feeling in my stomach and I cant speak to anyone about it.
    I would be really grateful for any advice.

    Reply
  174. Sam Spade

    Miss A: I’m very sorry to hear this.
    The first thing you must realize is that you are not alone.
    The second thing, you’ve only been back for two weeks.
    Things can and do get better.
    Fourth thing, you must FORCE yourself to network a bit with people and/or organizations who/which help other people.
    Doing volunteer work (like reading to blind people or helping handicapped people get about) may give you a new perspective.
    Of course, a job search is necessary, also.
    Last recourse?
    Seek some confidential, professional counseling.
    and, finally, make very tentative plans to return to Asia, perhaps?
    I hope some of this will help you.
    Fellow readers, Miss A’s comments have hit me hard.
    Please help her, if you can.
    I am putting myself in her place right now and even I am feeling pain.
    I thought I was a bit beyond that (now employed and living in my home country).
    However, my job is not a happy one and I, too, am suffering anxiety that my job may END!

    Reply
  175. Joan

    Hi Miss A,

    I think most of us here know that feeling in the pit of your stomach like you’ve just hit the pavement from a 40 floor building. I just want to say from the other side that things will get better. I’d still stick with what I said in an older post some time ago – plan your next trip, find other people who travel or are NOT from your home, cook the foods you miss, get heavily into ANYTHING you love or even like (I remember not loving anything for quite some time after my last return)…But know that this horrible feeling you’re in the middle of now eases with time, and you will become interested in crafting a good life for yourself again.

    Try to remember what it was you envisioned for yourself when you were in Asia. Write it down. You may not be able to get it to happen for yourself right now, but just keep the idea. You’ll be able to make it happen, but allow yourself some time. And don’t worry about snapping out of it – just let it suck for a while. I don’t mean to sound harsh or flip – I’ve just found that when I’ve just given in to it, it reduces the drama and actually I think the bitterness actally runs its course quicker.

    And jeez, if you can get government benefits, that’s great! Let it help!

    Hang in there Miss A – it definitely gets much easier.

    Reply
  176. Sam

    Hi everybody,

    After 20 years in the USA, I returned home in Europe. I feel the RCS very hard although I have a very good job back in my home country. I miss the USA very much. It would be a lot easier for me to adjust to a different country than my own because I have so many expectations. My family can not understand why I feel this way.
    Essentaially we all have three options.
    Accept it
    Change it
    or Leave

    It ıs so interesting when I consider US is my home and I want to go back, some are trying to get out of it.

    Lets try to stay positive. Worrying is not going to help.

    Best of luck everyone.

    Reply
  177. Linda

    I just came back from traveling around Latin America, and it has been hard for me to adjust. It is like am mourning a death, but no one has die. It has only been a couple of days, but I feel like I am being consumed by a darkness and I can’t see the light. I was excited to come home, but now that I’m back … I feel like there is nothing here for me.

    My reverse culture shock is even worse because I was in love. When I was in Brasil, I fell in love with a boy there. We dated for months, but we are no longer together because I have to finish up my studies at my university. I don’t know how to deal with this, knowing that the boy I love lives thousand of miles away. My longing to see him is so strong, I have thoughts of just buying a ticket and hoping on the plane to go back to see him tomorrow. But I know it’s not logical … I just feel hopeless by the thousand of miles that separate us.

    Reading these comments make me feel better, to know that I am not alone, and that there are other people understand what I’m going through.

    To everyone, you are strong. You had the strength to move away, so you posses the strength within you to survive reverse culture shock.

    I don’t know when I will see him again. I know I am young, but I will try to make future plans, because it let’s me know that it wasn’t a final goodbye. I don’t know when I will feel comfortable in my own house, but I know things will get better for me, but for now I’m going to cry and just let my emotions out, sometimes it’s the best way to heal — to let go.

    Reply
  178. Kelly

    Linda,
    I can understand what you’re going through. I just returned from working for two years in Germany, and I left the boy I love there as well. It is so hard. SO hard. I know. I’m sending a virtual hug to you across the distance.
    To everyone else, I am indebted to you all for your comments and words of support. Linda is right, we are strong and we can get through this RCS thing. I wish you all so much luck.

    Reply
  179. Ana Paua

    Amanda, great post! I used to read yours a lot while i was daydreaming all day long about my semester in Spain (Im from Peru).
    During all these months, I haven´t spend enough time reading blogs as I used to back home (maybe because i was living my own experiences and didnt even wanted to be at my PC). Today I had a crisis about going back home in two weeks, and I found these. While drinking my hangover coffe (one of the last ones in europe) in Berlin, I found out how true these reverse cultural shock is and how important is to now how to deal with it(happened to me before).
    The clue: live in yur city as ifyou were an expat traveller and never stop looking forward fornew adeventures.
    Thanks a lot for your posts, wish me uck on m next reverse

    Reply
  180. Anony Mous

    Can you survive reverse climate shock ! – I think I would this to the list of things all expats should be aware of when returning to their home country. I am a returnee to Sydney – after being in the UK for 15 years. It is a shock to the system how cold the houses are here – with little or no insulation or adequate heating. My bedroom has a temperature of 10 degrees – I can’t even get a decent sleep – and would not be in any state to work at the moment, although was looking for 3 months and no luck on that front. Never had a problem being cold in London during winters – central heating worked great. It is weird that it is colder indoors here in Sydney – and so uncomfortable and it makes me reconsider even being here.

    Reply
  181. Lee

    How amazing to find this article and comments. I’m at work, bored with no one to talk to, can’t connect with anyone, and very depressed. I returned to the US 9 months ago after 4 years in Germany. I left under difficult work circumstances, health problems, and aging parents dying for me to come home.

    I really believed coming home was THE answer. Sadly, I feel worse in the US despite having what many would consider a good solid job. My husband nfortunately has not had it so easy, many rejections to his anticipated plans and now he is looking for any job.

    Coming back to the US was sensory overload, the noise, traffic, aggression, and what seems like narcism of the general public. I’ve never felt so isolated in my life. It is such a great comfort to know now that I am not crazy or alone!

    Reply
  182. Leslie Martinez

    Thank you SO SO MUCH. I am living in Germany at the moment. After 11 months I’ll be heading home in 2 days. And I can’t imagine what it will be like. Well I guess I’ll know once I’m back in Texas. This helped me a lot!!

    Danke schoen♥ und liebe Gruesse

    Reply
  183. liv

    Without sounding to self-promoting, I wanted to mention my own account of reverse culture shock, that I’ve put into a book. Since so many people are posting comments of their own experiences, they may enjoy this book: “Sheep Under The Sea – Reverse Culture Shock from an Airplane Seat”. Amanda, feel free to email me and I’ll send you a free copy of the book in PDF for you if you’d like to review it. There’s a snippet here for your blog readers’ consumption, if I may:

    http://www.eatflylove.com/p/sheep-under-sea.html

    Reply
  184. Jetjet

    hi everyone. Thank you for this excellent post.

    I am a 32 years french guy, being in Japan in Kyoto for six years. After weeks of hesitation I finally made the decision to go back home to Paris. My flight is on the 25 august.

    I am planning to go back to school, which is something apparently many of you did, than come back to Japan and find a better position.

    I also have the feeling that if I don t give it a try now, It will be too late to go back home.

    I’ve planned to go back to the place I used to live during my studies in Paris, (Oups ! now I find your posts advising not to live in places where you were living before going abroad!)

    In one hand, I am glad I found this post and all your comments so I know I will have to face RCS when I am back home.

    But in the other hand, it makes me feel very anxious : I realized I might be doing a mistake flying back home!

    I said everyone, my family, my friends in France, my girlfriend, here in Japan, that i am going back home. She is not coming with me. She enjoys her job here, she does not speak a word of french and she does not want to share life with a 32 years old student with no job in a foreign country. (Obviously I cannot blame her!)

    To sum up: I leave a place I love, a girl I love to go back home, study and learn the tools to succeed when I come back here. Sounds crazy?

    “The should I stay or should I go” thing is getting me mad.
    My head is messed up and I cannot stop blaming myself for such hesitation.

    Why did you take the decision to go back home? Do you regret it? Is there something good waiting after the RCS?

    Thanks a lot for your posts, whatever happens next I will not be alone!!

    Reply
  185. MC

    I googled Reverse Culture Shock and this was the first blog that came up! I’m currently living in Japan, a small town in the mountains but visiting Sydney (my home before going to Japan) and getting quite a bit of Reverse Cutlure Shock!

    They warned us about Culture Shock and it certainly was a bit when going to Japan but just having a holiday in Sydney is scary. I live in a country town in Japan and right now it feels so much more at home than here even though not much happens there!

    Thanksfully

    Reply
  186. Miss A

    Jetjet,

    I think the best bit of advice I could offer you is to be prepared. I really believe I struggled so much when I returned to the UK because I had no plan, I knew what I wanted but I had no real, clear plan in my mind of how I was going to achieve it. I’d forgotten how difficult is to break out of the mould you find yourself in when your in your home town, I’d somehow forgotten that the opportunity’s I was hoping to find just don’t exist where I come from.

    It sounds like you know exactly what it is your coming home for, and I assume you know how long it will be before you return to Japan which I think should help you get through it. I still think you will probably struggle a little to settle back in but knowing it is only temporary and working towards going back to Japan should really help you get surive RCS .

    Good luck!

    Reply
  187. Lee

    Hi Jetjet
    To answer your questions ; why did I come home and do I regret it. I came back because I thought things would be better for me and my husband. I felt we were going nowhere in Germany. I also returned to my hometown and can see why it is not recommended. I find the place boring now…
    But I did also return to help my aging parents and that has been helpful. Everyone is different, I know many people who return home and were happy. I agree with the previous post that it will help you to know it is temporary. I have started thinking in these terms and it helps me. Best wishes to you.

    Reply
  188. Mona

    So far it has been 9 confusing months back in Canada after living in Europe,and this is now my 7th re-entry shock experience. I can’t lie,when I say that I am feeling uninspired, lost,lonely,alienated and completely not in my element. There is nothing wrong with Canada , but after attempting a good 22 years of my life finding a way to leave my country 7 times to persue what I love and studied for, I am feeling really humilated coming back and having no prospects for the future here in my field….

    I feel out of place pretty much all the time here and I often walk/bike around my city wondering what I am doing back here…..it doesnt make any sense to come back at all..it just feels foreign to me,or maybe im the foreigner now…..my soul is always hurting and I swallow that inevitable lump in the throat to prevent from bawling…. I wonder what happened to the ambitious,determined polyglot I once was..that part of me is gone,and I dont know how to get her back… now its an everyday challenge to do something as simple as going to the gym…. what happened to me? :(

    I am feeling often so bored no matter how many cultural activities that I enroll myself in,or how many international friends I make,and no matter how much enthusiasm I have for certain things ( I wont lie,most of it is pretty much poor facades to kid myself and others that I am happy to be back) :(….Being back in my homeland is uncomfortable,unfamiliar,drab and feels like I have been robbed of all that I learned and achieved in my 16+ years away and that it was all for nothing. even my family has been unsupportive and dismisses my artistic acheivements, 8 languages and travel experience,they act as if it was all just a waste of time… their indifference makes me feel like a drifter…:(

    ….I find myself once again starting from nothing,wondering how I got here,and how to climb back up….I experience longing everytime I see a travel show and feel like I am stuck here forever. I just cant figure out why Im here and how to get myself out of this situation. It was entirely my choice to come back,so I only have myself to blame for this….:( …..

    at any rate,glad to have an outlet to write this reverse culture shock experience and everybodys posts have been healing to me….thanks to all and the very best happiness…

    Reply
  189. adam

    Thank you soooooooooooooooooooooooo much for everyone here,
    I have been living in US for seven years and this is my second time going back home to Palestine. I came back about two weeks ago after four years of not visiting, and since then I have been feeling sick ,lost, confused, tired, unmotivated, not interested in doing anything, not sure who I am, scared that I am going to get crazy, really wearied feeling . I feel like my brain is frozen, and I have been thinking to go to a psychologist because I thought maybe something happened to my mind because I wasn’t aware of the reverse culture shock. Since I came back up to this moment I have been questioning myself what happened to me am I normal or what’s going on? After I have read this article and the comments about it made me feel really good; therefore, I would like to thank everyone. Please let me know if the way how I feel is normal for a reverse culture shock and it is going to go away soon, or if I should go to a doctor because this feeling is driving me crazy and I hate it, I want to go back to my old active personality before I went on this vacation, how can I go back to normal. Going back home hit me really hard after I seen how old my parents have grown. Going back home made me feel really sorry for everyone I saw because I believe their life is extremely hard, but I am sure for a lot of them is ok, I just couldn’t take it, and the other thing that made me feel extremely sad is that I felt I don’t belong there anymore and that was shocking to me.

    Reply
  190. patty

    I’m going to have agree with most of the posts on here. I was living in Beijing for a year on a teaching contract and then traveled through Thailand for about a month after, before returning home. China was a life changing experience, but during the 2nd half of the year it was just a bit hard to reside there. I did however meet incredible people whom I was able to learn a lot from. I thought I would have felt a lot happier to be back home, since China wasn’t the easiest either. However now I’m here, “home-sweet-home” as they say and I have never felt more alone and lost. Like many of you have commented, everything here has remained the same, while I feel very different. I’m becoming frustrated with myself for not knowing what i really want. I do want to want to be home, but maybe I just don’t fit in here anymore. Also, for as long as I can remember, I always wanted to go abroad and when I finally had made the decision life became grand at home. My relationships with friends, family, and a significant other had me feeling like I was leaving just when things were getting good. I left with that notion of home and I guess I was driven to return home to that same scenario, but that isn’t the scenario. In essence, I’ve returned to the life that I initially wanted to draw myself away from. I don’t want to give up so quickly, but I find myself already looking for teaching jobs abroad. Maybe for some of us, living abroad is the answer, yes? Anyone out there who felt returning home just didn’t make them happy, even after giving it a try?

    Reply
  191. Lizy

    It was encouraging to read this article and all the comments. There are others who have experienced what I have! I went on two trips to China. (Each trip I was there a month long) When I got back home I enjoyed seeing my family again. I had missed them towards the end of the trip, but then once back home, I kept looking for all the crowds of people I had started getting used to in China. I met so many neat people there in China and I miss them. I have been back home 6 months now and I still feel different. When I first got back I thought it would wear off, and I would be the same as before I left…. Talkative, an avid photographer, always blogging, it seems like I only want to photograph new things in other countries, everything here now seems boring and mundane.

    Reply
  192. Lauren

    Thank you for this blog and all your comments! I am so sick of feeling this way and after 11 months back home no-one around me wants to hear that I’m still struggling to fit in here. It’s nice to know I’m not alone.
    I spent six years overseas, mostly in Europe, mostly in Spain. I travelled the world and satisfied my yearning for adventure. Just over a year ago, at age 30, I felt that after all this life experience, what I now wanted most in life was a stable home and family life. As much as I loved the nomadic lifestyle and experiencing different cultures and languages and the intensity of the friendships and relationships I’ve had, I never saw it as a permanent way of life. I decided to come home so that I could be part of my terribly missed immediate family members’ lives again, and also in the hope that if I set up a more stable life in my home country, I would have more chance of meeting a good man and having a family of my own one day.
    I always knew it was going to be hard, but I didn’t realise how hard, and how long it would take. In all the other cities and towns I’ve lived in, I always felt at home within a few months. Here in Sydney I still feel like an outsider, and I don’t see how that’s going to change. All my friends here are married with young children, every single one of them, so I literally have nobody to socialise with. I rarely have opportunities to go out and meet anyone new, and even when I do, people just don’t seem to mingle like I’m used to (unless they’re just looking to pick up and partner off and then stop socialising outside their inner circle of friends). I have met nice people in Sydney of course, but very few that I feel I have much in common with, and there just isn’t that warm, open, friendly culture of community that allows you to connect with potential new friends.
    I’m trying to be patient, but every day I wonder if I made the right decision or if I really just don’t belong here and should go back to Spain and the life (missing my family but otherwise happy) I had there. I’ve gone from being a happy adventurous positive and fairly confident person wandering the globe and making new friends everywhere I went to being an insecure lonely and negative person that no-one wants to know or even knows is here. How do I get out of this rut? Do I give it more time?

    Reply
  193. Hazel

    Wow – thank you everyone. I was googling for reasons why I feel so low and un-motivated (I just got back from India). The interenet is great for helping us to find support. I feel inspired by every one’s experiences and I am hoping not to let my feelings of disconnection get in my way. And I have just booked my next trip, which has helped! And I am really focused on finding some kind of a balance. Thanks for all the good advice and understanding words here.

    Reply
  194. Karla

    Hello, thank you for this article, and thanks to everyone for posting their experiences, it truly does help to know we are not the only ones feeling this way. I live in Mexico, i just came back from a year studying in France, 2 months ago, it was always my dream to visit France and Europe, so i worked a whole year in a job that i didnt like to save up the money to go, and while i was there, it was great, i loved having friends from all over the world, and just the environment is so different from where i live now.

    I went there in the first place, because i felt my life here in Mexico was boring, nothing new, nothing exciting, same old people, also i didnt have many friends anymore, i am 25, and most of my friends already have babies or are married, or i forgot about them because i was too busy with my boyfriend of that time. With whom i broke up with like 6 months before leaving.

    So i wanted to go to France and study and have like a college experience all over again, date french guys, (because i might add, i was with the mentioned ex-boyfriend for 6 years, since i was 18 years old ) which i did, met really nice people, went out with a lot of guys, and I feel like I changed my way of thinking about a lot of things, and also gained more confidence in myself. Now all i want to do is travel, and experience new things.

    But I am back in Mexico, and it seems like everything is just the way it was when i left, except it feels worst, because now i have this feeling of longing for what i had, and i keep comparing my life there to the one i have here.

    I am going back to France, to do a master, but sadly i will have to wait a year, because i missed the deadlines for the application process, and it feels like such a looong time, i think to myself one more year of probably working in a job that i dont like, and not having a very active social life, not like the one i had in France, and it just gets me very depressed, i really miss the friends i had there.

    Reply
  195. Maria

    Like all the other this article touches me so much!!!
    I just returned from Asia 2 months ago.
    With 41 years old this has been my 4th return home and it gets worst as I get older.
    In total I have already spend 13 years abroad, 11 in Asia and 2 in Brussels.
    Although I have a job here, once again I feel like I do not fit in….The one’s who understand me were either former expats or are currently living as an expat in my country.
    What I like here is the social side of my life and the nice climate that I was missing in my last assignment abroad. Except for the 1st month now I am making an effort to go out and socialize.
    The worst problem is in the job!! My country is still too far behind….
    How do you deal when you have seen more and sometimes better?? How do you deal when you know you are not going to learn much because they are making you do what you were doing when you left 3 years ago? Is like going back to stone age. It hurts. You boss sees you as a threat. They say you are complicated…
    When I go abroad people tend to reenforce my positive side. Back home exactly those positive aspects tend to be criticized. Because they want you to be equal. To be like the others. “Not to think outside the box”.
    I believe my country needs me, specially in this desperate times of financial crisis, but I do not know where I fit.
    Although I would love to settle down and have a family… deep down I know I am an adventurer, someone who loves challenges and who hates routines. I am a citizen of the world!
    2 months before I came I had strong stomach pains and lost weight. I did not know what it was but now I think it was the fear of coming home.
    Everyday I have the urge to apply for a job to go abroad and leave everything but I know this cannot be the way to solve my daily problems.
    I believe it will pass. If not, I would have to consider leaving for good but at least stay not too far from home. Maybe within Europe…
    Are we cursed to live like this??? It is like a bipolar. It is very difficult to live with the nostalgy of missing your country/family/friends/culture when you go abroad but at the same time dealing with the fear and resentfulness because you do not fit in. It is like your country is too small for you or it is not what you wanted it to be. A great poet of my country, “Fernando Pessoa” wrote about this feelings that have been in the history of the discoveries since the 15th century.

    Reply
  196. Tucker

    Great article that describes how I am feeling.

    It is funny when I read you are from Perth and that is where I moved to from the US. Perth seemed pretty exotic to me. I agree with it being so expensive to fly anywhere.

    I’m going back to the US in a few days after being gone for 4 years. I have mixed feelings about it. I am looking forward to the shopping and food and seeing family but I wonder if I will be sad if I don’t like the same foods I used to.

    I am a little afraid of my own country too when I read how people are treated at the airport with the super scanners and touchy feel ups.

    I guess I am lucky as my family likes seeing pictures of places I go. I don’t go on and on about it but they seem to enjoy it.

    Reply
  197. ian

    After 3 years in Asia coming home was good – for a week, maybe even two. It’s hard to articulate my feelings now though. Life has gone on without me – as it always would – and it is hard to adapt to the small town view that iam confronted with here. Asked where i was recently i said , Cambodia – the reply – “are they Japanese or Chinese there”. Couldn’t make it up.

    Reply
  198. Will

    It is wonderful to read this page, and all your entries. It’s great to share what is sometimes such a difficult, and prolonged personal experience of reverse culture shock.
    I have just returned to the UK, and have just moved to the USA, from 4 years in a mission hospital in Malawi, where the people and work were amazing; and almost every day was full of such adventure, excitement, bizarre events that they became completely normal. Daily life was a bit of an interesting effort on simple levels. I am now so hesitant to even walk into a supermarket as I am just stunned and stare blankly at the rows of choice.
    Of course it is hard to explain to people what life is like in a different world; but as least my wife and I know that there IS a different World out there.
    It is hard to explain to people why we went, and what it really meant; so if they ask I simply entertain them with a few stories.
    It is very difficult to hear people complain about mundane things, when I see that they are actually so privileged; but mostly hard to hear people be horrible to others.
    In the end, I agree with the advice to surround yourself with similar, open-minded of different cultural backgrounds; and to cherish them.
    I also allow myself to dream happily about the wonderful times and experiences. The positive personal changes that have been catalysed through this; and to hold onto these changes dearly.
    It is so interesting to read these entries here! Some folk have spent time away in Europe and returned to Mexico; others time in USA and returned to UK, or time in Asia and returned to Australia.
    It will never be easy to return to a home country that hasn’t changed, while you have. It is almost impossible to explain to people who haven’t had the opportunity to travel abroad, exactly what this foreign land and experience was truly like. And perhaps it is unfair to expect everyone to understand.
    But it is incredibly heartwarming to know that there are so many kindred spirits out there, and thank you for all these posts!
    And wherever we’ve been, and wherever the home we are returning to is; what unites us is a true and palpable sense that there is a World out there. And we visited it.
    Best of luck to you all! I know I will need it!

    Reply
  199. jetjet

    Hi everyone,

    This is my second post: In the first one I told you how worry I was before returning home to Paris after living six years in Japan. Thanks to Miss A and Lee for their kind answers. It ‘s been a month since I am back and I just want to give you some feedback.

    Thanks to all of you, I knew I would have to struggle hard with reverse cultural shock, and I actually am. But I know how to handle it, because there are many good advices here.

    I already miss Japan terribly, my girlfriend, my friends, everyday life and good times in Tokyo and Kyoto. Going back home after a long period abroad might look like going back to reality after a long dream.

    I still haven’t found the perfect medicine to cure RCS (time might be the only one) but this seems to work for me:Most of us enjoyed being abroad for reasons deeper than material reasons. Simply ask yourself the two following questions:

    Why did I enjoy being abroad so much?

    Couldn’t I enjoy being home that way?

    Reply
  200. Jill

    Ian,

    I have also just returned from 3 1/2 years in Asia, Thailnd and I have no clue what to do. I am in this small town with very few connections or job prospects. I miss everything about Thailand and fear I have totally screwed up by coming back. The money may not be great over in Asia, at least in SEA, but it is so much more relaxed and stress free.

    Reply
  201. Daria

    I have this problem, too. Just came back from 3 years in Japan and China and I’m miserable being back in the States. For all the craziness and occasional hassles of being in Asia (especially China), I’d go back there in a minute if I had the chance. I came back to make a career change (I wasn’t an English teacher in Asia, but a musician.) and go to school in America, but I feel like I’d be just as well off going to school abroad where it’s cheaper and I’d be improving my language skills. I’m hoping to get to Europe next year and then eventually back to Asia, or something as equally exciting. I don’t know any cure but I understand the sentiment here. I can’t seem to stay in one place and have never felt like a part of my “own” country. I always feel better when I’m abroad. Sigh……

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  202. Rik

    Thanks for this. I’ve been back in the US for about a month after 5 years in Japan and it’s a lot more difficult than I expected. It doesn’t help that no one around me really gets what’s going on with me. It just feels like I don’t have a place or a role here.

    Have been applying for jobs, maybe once I get working again, it’ll get better.

    Reply
  203. Fleur

    I’m so happy that I found this website and discoverd the reverse culture shock!! I finally know what is wrong with me and why i’m feeling so miserable, bored and so emotional.
    I’ve lived in Paris for 1 year and I have been home for 3 months now in Holland and I just don’t feel like myself.
    I’ve started university in a small town and I really dislike it. it’s small, boring and nothing exciting happens..
    I can’t really connect to people in the way that I used to do and I just really feel lost..

    Do you know whether changing university, moving to Amsterdam would make my culture shock smaller? Because it’s a big, new city full of different cultures.. or would it make it worse?? Because I realy want this to stop :(

    Reply
  204. student

    recently i went on a trip with my school to Japan for two weeks. this is the first time i have been overseas without my family and the teachers and people were all very nice. now i am suffering from very strong rcs even if it’s been 2 weeks. the wierd thing is that i want to continue to have rcs because it reminds me of all the great times i had in japan. help?

    Reply
  205. Joan

    Hi Student – That’s an interesting point – I remember well shuddering at the idea of returning to a point where mundane American life seemed “normal” to me again. Everything I saw was so insipid and aggrivating that I couldn’t imagine feeling at home in it again. Almost like it would be a great loss to feel at home again, because it would mean I wouldn’t have any of the insights and memories I’d gained.

    Reply
  206. lost_at_home

    Thank you so much for all these posts. I have had such a hard time re-entering after 2 years away. I still have friends at home, but it is so difficult to relate to them, and them to me. As a lot of people mentioned, nobody really seems to care what you have been doing, or how hard it must be to be back. Most people are either still doing the same thing, or have started having families. I am doing neither of those things.

    I haven’t really been able to get back to work as much as I’d like, and that is hard. I miss my old life, but it was my choice to come back.

    I guess I’m just wondering, is it better to plan my next jaunt away, as a holiday, or plan another move in a year or two? Am I ever going to feel happy here again? I wasn’t happy two years ago, so is it crazy to think I could be happy here now?

    Reply
  207. Miss Ellen

    I am grateful to read all the post here going back years now. I thought I was going insane returning ‘home’…….

    I have recently (3 weeks ago) returned to Denmark after 6 years in the UK. I had never considered that moving ‘home’ would be an issue. Yes, of course it would be a change. However, I was not prepared for the sadness that I feel inside, and I cannot shake it off. It feels like something is broken inside of me. I was very happy in the UK, did an MBA then decided that it was time to go ‘home’. Unfortunately home is no longer home and the reasons that I moved back no longer appeals to me. Things are not as I remember them. People are not as I remember them. I am lost, sad, perhaps slightly depressed, and cannot stop crying. I cannot sleep because I cannot stop thinking about my situation and how to fix it. It is difficult to speak to my friends here as most have never lived abroad; those friends that have lived abroad many years ago tell a very similar story to mine. They would go back in a heartbeat if it was not for commitments such as husband and children.

    I am not sure how to handle this emotional turmoil and my confusing thoughts. While abroad I never doubted that ‘home’ was Denmark; now that I am here I realise that I left my heart in the UK and that my home is no longer here. It seems ridiculous given that the UK is just across the pond – a 1 hour flight. I miss so many things, my lifestyle, my friends, the friendliness of the people and the multicultural society, the diversity of people and the acceptance of people being different, the much faster pace and busyness of the UK. I am constantly questioning whether I have made the right decision moving back. I know nothing is set in stone and that I can move back to the UK tomorrow but I am also wondering whether this is merely a phase I need to get past and then I will reconnect with my country again? How long do I give it a chance here as I am afraid the sadness will stifle me completely – the bubbly, active, happy and outgoing confident woman has disappeared and I want her back.

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  208. Mr Patel

    Now where do I start. Firstly, I it is so great to know that I am not the only one going through this nightmare. I spent 6 months in Manila, in the Philippines through a job promotion and it was the best thing that’s ever happened to me. I met so many people, did so many things, went to so many beaches, got a tan, ate seafood etc. It was like a transformation had taken place in my life because I never saw it coming. I was so happy it was like a break away from reality which in my case is the UK.

    I’ve only just returned 3 months ago and boy has it been the most terrible 3 months in my entire life. The first few weeks were ok because I was so excited to see my friends and family and it was good to give them all a hug and have a few drinks on a friday night. I’ve even found a new job with a decent paying salary so I thought I was doing pretty fine until bang….2 months ago I just couldn’t seem to fall asleep at night and it really started to worry me.

    I thought what is going on I normally sleep like a baby. I then realised it’s all this reverse culture shock. Settling back HOME is harder than I ever imagined.

    You’re all right in that nobody cares about your travels, not even you’re close friends, there is so much jealousy involved and normality does hit you like a train. It’s like I feel so out of place I don’t even know who I am anymore. I use to be so funny, attractive, confident and charismatic and now that person has just vanished. I want the old me back asap and I hope it’s just time that heals me because I don’t know what else will.

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  209. Stace

    Kiaora everyone!

    After leaving NZ for over 10 years and returning home after too long was to say the least I endured all of the above and more… But I guess the difference was I snagged a wee scottish lad in Ireland so at times I had him to lean on and he was a great strength and rock for me (most times anyways) but at least I had someone knowing exactly what I had come from… although NZ was a culture shock for him it was the reverse for me. Five years on we are well integrated back into society and have bought our own home and am studying as well Cross Cultural Communication I will never for the life of me forget the anxiety and inconsistent expectations I
    returned to five years ago (which has flown by). My advice to fellow revrse culture shock travellers out there is find some common know that it is totally normal and you will eventually adjust thank goodness for blogging! Things can only get better… We are planning a trip back to Asia and Europe but again would be so different returning there and not having the same people around on the same mission of being there for a short time with diff priorities of course. Be a reverse cult shock all over again going back with certain expectations…
    Anyways All the very best to everyone we wouldnt have had it any other way maybe except finishing our degrees a little earlier in life but life is all about timing and as long as you are happy! Keep up the good work lifes too short for regrets! Go hard everyone! xoxox Stace

    Reply
  210. Ellie

    Hey everyone, thanks for all the comments, I had a really rough day and it’s helping to commiserate. I got back three weeks ago from two years of living abroad in the Middle East, and to top off and already depressing situation, I left a nearly two year relationship as well. Kind of feel like I’m dealing with two separate breakups at this point.

    I have nothing tying me down, so right now my goal is to get a little more freelance income before taking off again but the knowledge that I can’t go back and dive right back into my old life abroad is pretty disheartening. I’m doing the whole not eating, sleeping weird hours, avoiding responsibility thing, but I find that spending time with travel-minded friends helps because they are actually interested in your stories. And even if they aren’t, they have enough sympathy to pretend :)

    I’ve been forcing myself to go to a friend’s office most days, or a coffee shop, and work online (job hunt, writing, whatever) and it helps me feel less useless… I’m a big proponent of fake it til you make it, but man it is really difficult to pretend to want to settle in and find a job when all you want is to get on a one way flight and get lost somewhere. And today I was feeling caged and just wanted to go anywhere, but I realized that there was absolutely nothing I wanted to do! Anyone else feel that way?

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  211. Carmen Castro Mortara

    Hi to all,
    It seems that it was yesterday that I was feeling so low and disheartening. I came back home to Lima 10 months ago after living 20 years in the UK.
    It is funny it was my ex husband who made me think and reflect on what I was missing here in Lima. He loves Peru but is still in UK. He said that he envíes me as I can enjoy nice good And music.
    He loves Peru but is still in the UK missing the good t

    Reply
  212. Sammy

    Hey Ellie, I completely understand what you are going through. I spent eight months away, now back in the UK and with the dark nights, lack of structure ect, I just feel so low. I just keep trying to count my blessings, I know it’s a cliche but it’s all I can do. I have enough money through freelance coming in to pay rent and eat, not much more but it’s something. I too just want to go but I know that it would be long-term more disruptive. I’m single so there’s no direct emotional support and I don’t want to drain my friends. I’m taking St John’s Wort to try to take the edge off my depression and I just take each day as it comes. At some point, I’m told, the emotional turmoil will even out. If you can, get involved with voluntary work while you’re looking for paid work as at least that way you will start to feel less despondent if you are helping others. Good luck and remember people know what you’re going through x

    Reply
  213. Home to Australia

    Well it has been six months very soon since my return to Australia from Paris after 3 years (I ended a 10 year relationship at the same time – double whammy) It has been as hard as I thought. Now just as the (too hot) tropical hot humid days of summer are starting my thoughts are with my beautiful european winter. I don’t have any easy answers – some days are harder than others – some days are just awful – make the most of where you have returned too – I spend my weekends making the most of the harbour and beaches. But still automatically and unintentionally start speaking french when I hear the accent, I don’t speak anymore about mourning my home and life in Paris to friends – no-one understands why you cant just get over it – but it is still felt with much anguish. The thought is but this is your home country. I feel torn, miss my life and feel like I am just passing time waiting for ‘something’ to fill the part of me that is missing. Bon chance.

    Reply
  214. Been there

    Everybody on this site seems to be complaining about how hard it is adjusting, and how they are missing their glamorous lives overseas. One thing to remember, the majority of you left for a reason and made the decision to leave – e.g you were unhappy, lonely – life was sometimes exciting/interesting but overall it was time to get settled back into your home country.

    Now you are back and you are unhappy – things are not as you imagined they would be, so what do you do ? Immediately you start thinking you made the wrong decision – why did I come back, I am so unhappy here, I miss my life overseas – you think about all the good times and all your exciting experiences.

    Whats wrong here? You forget that you came back for a reason. If everything was so good there you would have never left in the first place. There were tough times overseas too – what you need to come to terms with is that life itself is not easy sometimes. No matter where you are you will be challenged – there is no place where things are easier – the initial excitement of being anywhere new eventually fades and the challenges of living life become the focus.

    If you made a decision to leave, or stay – stick with it. At least try get back into life where you are now – you can still love the country you were living in, and you can always go back there to visit or work sometime in the future. Who knows? Nothings permanent. We are travellers.

    Reply
  215. Home to Oz also

    I too just arrived in Sydney a few months ago after living for a year in Paris. I have had some wonderful days here in Sydney but also some days where I have flashbacks on life in Paris – the beautiful architecture, the vibrant streets, walking everywhere..Given the number of people feeling like this on this blog I think we should start groups to actually meet up with one another…at least that would alleviate the sense of isolation one feels in this situation. Is anyone up for it?

    Reply
  216. ruth

    Thanks Amanda! I returned to Australia 4 months ago from 2 years in the Middle East (and ended the relationship at the same time), and have honestly been at a loss to decipher whether it’s the demise of the relationship or being back here that just drags on. I am starting to think it’s being back here, not, as Been There says (above) because everything was so good overseas (I don’t miss it at all), but because I have struggled to find anyone interested in, as you described, what was a life-changing experience. It took me two months to even be able to take part in the conversation at the local Bowls Club without despising myself for being so banal.
    I think the biggest thing for me though is that I struggle to find justification in living such an easy life – and after much soul-searching and guilt I’m starting to think that I really should do the best with what I’ve got, if only because feeling so guilty ain’t helping anyone.
    I am absolutely open to comments on this.
    And yes, Home to Oz, feel free to contact me :)

    Reply
  217. Amy Huang

    Hi Everyone,

    I was wondering if I could get some advice. I have been in Australia for nearly 6 years and I am coming back on Dec. 26 to LA in California (with my parents). This is unusual as I am almost 35 years old and I have moved out of my home since I was 18 years old.

    I have been like a rat chasing its tail for the past couple of years. I earned a Bachelor’s in Psychology and Master’s of Education in Counseling Psychology in the U.S. I was in a Ph.D. program in Counseling Psychology and got expelled since the program was a bad fit for me.

    Anyhow, because of that experience, I decided to go for an adventure and do a four year doctorate degree in Social Work. I completed my studies, met a wonderful Australian guy, but found that it wasn’t meant to be. After nearly 6 years, I am sick of Australia (and our relationship is to the break-up point). I realize that I was only staying for him and I have no family here. I wasn’t close to my family before, but I just became close to them after I was laid off of my job. I did get a new job in Australia, but as my boyfriend threatened to break up with me, I decided that it was time for me to leave.

    I have started applying for graduate school programs in a Master of Social Work since in the U.S. that is a terminal degree and it would open more job opportunities. I’m not sure a Doctorate from Sydney would be recognized.

    The good part is, my parents moved to California, LA and they were originally living in Connecticut. I know that there may be more job opportunities in CA but i know that the economy is bad and unemployment is at a high everywhere.

    At the moment, I am getting recommendation letters from most of my employers in Australia. With networking, how do you familiarize yourself with an unfamiliar place? I am afraid that I will not know my way around LA although I will have a car and eventually learn. I feel like a helpless baby. I don’t want to be depressed when I go back. Any advice to prepare myself? How did other people prepare themselves when they went back or start to apply for jobs before they came back? Is it tough if all of your references are from a foreign country?

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  218. Natalia

    Im half English/Spanish lived all my life in England but would always spend summers in Spain while still adapting to a Spanish culture back in England. Most days i feel more Spanish than English, making it so frustrating how different i am to people in England, but sometimes when I spend summers in Spain a certain aspect of english personality would appear making me more and more confused about my native identity.
    To make matters worse I recently spent 5 months on an erasmus program in italy, therefore making me grow fond for another country and culture. People are so different Italy, they are more passionate, open minded and have a great soul! The beauty italians have while speaking in their beautiful language while showing there expression not only in their hands but in their faces, they actually look you in the eye for a long time making you feel a sense of warmth and understanding. So now i am torn between 3 cultures so what do I do? People in england don;t fully understand me unless they have had a similar experience.
    Im always listening to Spanish music, eating italian food, watching italian films, constantly reminiscing about the times abroad while dreaming about the beautiful cities that i once visted in italy. I met my soulmates in iatly who don’t compare to my friends here at home, they were from all over the world making it very difficult to see them again
    Italy bought the. best out of me, it bought even more of my Spanish side that had been hidden away and taken over by the British “culture”. Now I am more of a open minded person, my soul has grown fonder and the love for latin countries has become my love of my life. I hope to move back to either Spain or italy one day, leaving only one problem, my parents who are the rock and love of my life. So what do I do? stay here being unhappy or move abroad where my soul and happiness belongs?

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  219. Ellie

    Hey guys, just wanted to update for those of you still in the depths of despair over being back… I’ve been home living with family for the last few months and I feel a lot more sane even after that short period of time.

    “Been there” is absolutely right about having left for a reason… and it’s so easy to see things through rose-colored shades after leaving. Just get out and see people as much as you can and try not to go on endlessly about your travels as it will make you feel more alienated if they don’t “get it”. Also, find work or things to work on so you don’t become painfully lazy while you’re adjusting. I feel much better when I’m not stuffing my face over reality TV.

    Going abroad again is not a bad idea if you’re truly unhappy being back, but don’t do it in a panic. I am shocked at how negative I was at first and how much my mood changed after the initial shock of being home wore off. Hang in there.

    Reply
  220. ruth

    Hi I wish i had read this two years ago. I lived in India for 15 years and had two children there. I had an amasing career in maternal health and loads of other friends from all over the world whom also had Indian hubands. I now live in the lower blue mountians and I jsut dont fit in. No one understands how this life can happen. I am very happy I have had a great life, but its so dull, lonely, quiet, culturless and I feel people are opresssed and controled by the state way too much. There really is no life here. In two years I have belen back to India 4 times, i have real connections there. I work with people who understand life on many levels. Australians are narrow minded and afraid. My first year back I akmost went on anti depressnts, now I try not to think and just do, stick to myself and smile. I wonder whre in Australia I would feel confortable.

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  221. Annie

    I have just returned home after living in the States for 2 years and am finding it terribly difficult. Just reading some of the stories here makes me feel less alone. Ellie has described exactly how I feel – having to make myself go out each day. I just hope that it gets better with time because right now I don’t know what to do with myself and my despondent mood. Thanks everyone for sharing your stories.

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  222. Jennifer Choban

    So well put, Amanda. I’m a yankee living in Mexico. Every time I go “home” to the US, I find that there are fewer and fewer conversations I can participate in. Like others, I find it comforting to know other travelers experience the same thing. Thanks for sharing.

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  223. Daisy

    Such a relief to read this post. 2 months ago I returned to NZ after living in the UK and South America for the better part of 9 years. I came home often during that time for holidays, weddings etc, which was always great. But now that I am home, without a return ticket booked anyway, it feels completely different. I was planning to come home around this time, but was supposed to have my partner in tow, unfortunately we abruptly broke up at the end of last year and I left him in Brazil. So I came home alone. Not only am I dealing with reverse culture shock, I am also trying to move on from a relationship breakdown!

    Once the initial novelty of being home wears off, and normality sets in, it can be such a shock. Without realising it I kept saying things like ‘In Brazil they do this… or in Brazil they have this… bla bla bla’ and a friend actually said to me once ‘You are so obsessed with Brazil, what’s wrong with NZ?! That sentence completely shut me up and floored me and now I very rarely mention it as I don’t want people to think I am complaining about NZ!

    I do love NZ and have always been very proud to be a Kiwi, it has just been very hard to handle the feeling of being a stranger in your own country. Once you have spread your wings and travelled it is inevitable you will change, and that is only a good thing. Don’t let anyone make you feel bad or weird about it. I have plans to travel again but not for a couple of years as I have study and family commitments here in NZ. Keeping busy does help I guess, and try to stay away from FB as seeing your friends latest travel pics will not help haha. Take care everyone and happy travels x

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  224. ruth

    its now 2 and a half years and I feel as devistated as I did the day I arrived back. I unlike you dont feel a lot for Australia at all. Its bland and impossible after living such a rich and social life. I lost country, work and community. I feel I have nothing and I think the only thing to do is go back. i just spent 6 weeks back in India and I was so happy, so busy, so connected with the world. Its dead here. Not a day went by without some totally awsonme social connection, wonderful vistas and high feeling about life. I dont think I can ever fit and and Im feeling I should see a counsellor but who will understand, I will probably just sound like a privledged twat.

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  225. Niki

    I’ve been back almost two years. Generally, I feel like I don’t fit in most of the time. I am in school and will graduate in May, but I still feel disconnected to being “home” in many ways. I really feel like I’m living a charade. The person I was overseas was the real me. Sometimes I feel like someone stole my life and left me with this. It sucks to still feel bad about being home when I have such a great family, but they have never been able to understand how much happier I was overseas. I felt so much free-er to be me in so-called “communist” China than I do here. I really hope I will have a chance to go back overseas one day. I don’t count it out and that’s what keeps me going on the tough days.

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  226. Hazel

    I am finding these posts very itneresting. I posted a few months ago having just got back from India and I was feeling so disillusioned and isolated and down that I actually decided to go back to India, which is what I did. Interestingly, this time on returning, I feel much happier and more settled. I wasn’t ready to return before and I had nothing much to return to but this time, I organised a better job before I returned which gave me something to focus on as soon as I arrived back. For me this has been really important as I think being disillusioned with all aspects of life on returning is going to makes things a lot worse and make you yearn to go back on your travels. I guess this won’t work for everyone, but I would say, involve yourself in a project which is meaningful to you – a job, charity work, a writing project, whatever and make sure you get stuck in straight away. It has worked for me this time around, although I am beginning to get itchy feet again…….

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  227. ruth

    I have so much going on the kids school, work and its what I love doing but I miss the vibrabt life and a part of me feels it is the only type of life worth living.

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  228. Ellie

    Hey all, just wanted to update again after going abroad one more time! I did feel really comfortable in the states before I left, which I think is really important. Still, I did decide to leave again and go to South America, where I’m having fun and learning Spanish!

    To all of you guys having a hard time adjusting, just remember that you’re in a weird frame of mind… this is something I wrote that sums it up: http://thebackdrop.tumblr.com/post/17406849419/feeling-depressed-youre-not-to-be-trusted

    Good luck and remember, if you want to go abroad again, do it! I can never replace my past experiences, but being somewhere new really challenges me to face my issues and move past them. I’m having fun while still dealing with all the stuff from my previous posts.

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  229. RandomG

    Thanks for posting your experiences and everyone else above too.

    Having been back in the UK, for some six months, I am still finding it as hard as I did the first day I stepped back onto British soil. The pain and anguish has gotten steadily worse rather than better.

    Everything reminds me of how much I loved being abroad, the weather, crap food, the mindless understandable conversations…. And today it’s glorious outside, the first decent day this side of Winter. I’ve been out and taken a walk and enjoyed the Sun. Yet I am deeply depressed about how much I miss the tropical heat, the sun and the pleasures that nice weather gives you. All because it reminds me of who I was, where I was and what I could, would and was doing.

    I long to be abroad again. But am terrified that I may never get the chance. My LTR, who travelled with me, has managed to secure a job and current commitments don’t permit an elongated holiday. I, on the other hand, am struggling to find work, not that I want a job in the UK, and ache daily to go back, to travel to leave the UK behind and never return.

    The odd thing is, I have the finance to do so, but then face a bigger decision than any I have taken before. Do I leave my 8 year plus partner to pursue my adventure or do I bide my time and hope that one day, we can both experience it again…

    ???

    Understandably, I feel lost and bewildered with it all.

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  230. Aydana

    wow, i just read all of your topics and i feel like my sickness just had diagnosed. well, my story is bit different tan all of y`all. Maybe its because my hometown is considered as a 3rd world coutry (Kazakhstan). I just got back to KZ after 4 years of living in US. The thing is when i was leaving i burned all the bridges behind me, so i am probably not allowed to go back. Now when i am home a feel like i could have done a mistake but i have to take care of my mother and thats kinda makes it easier to go through. I hope this feelings will fade away soon and i will learn to love my corrupted country again :(

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  231. Agata

    Oh God, I’ve been home for a few weeks for the first time in two years. I hate it. It’s awful. Your article is spot on. I know I’ll get over it soon, but it is so hard to be back! Great read.

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  232. Sam Wood

    Hello everybody,

    I was in the U.S.A for 22 years then I went back home and felt extremly depressed. After three months, I returned back to the U.S.A. I am not sure if that was the right move. My friends told me that it takes 6 months to a year to get used to the country of your origin.

    I feel a unique bond with everyone here in this blog. Leving home in the first place broaden my world view. I feel that it helped me to muture up and become a better person. We all took the risk wondered into the unchartered waters. We are the explorers. We may not be domesticated. Perhaps all of us has that gypsee thing in all of us.

    I thing the most shocking thing when you go back home, you realize that you grew apart from your loved ones. You are not sure if you can fit in. However, eerybody says that you eventually get used to it. So everyone, be PATIENT. I was told to give a year but rushed back to the USA in three months.

    Best of luck everyone! Please write the success stories as well so that others can be inspired.

    Sam

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  233. ruth

    I have been back 2 and a half years adn I still hate it, Im just waiting to leave. I’ m still on social networking and hear about all the fun everyones having in india while I sit in a bland australian subburb. The highlight of my day is a goodmorning as I walk the kids to school. Who would choose to live like this ?

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  234. Samwood

    Ruth,

    I wanted to move to Australia so badly when I was in my early 20’s. I still would like to visit it someday.

    Sam

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  235. SusanD

    I posted nearly a year ago when I was on the way back to the country of my birth (UK) after 22 years away living in several coutnries.

    I think that knowing how reverse-culture shock can affect you is the key to surviving it. I was prepared. However all the usual symptoms were there, feeling like an alien in a place that should be so familiar, etc. I am still here and my circumstances mean I will be here for the forseeable future, but I am sure I won’t stay forever. I am not sure how I would feel if I thought I couldn’t leave again.

    I am comfortable here again. I enjoy going out and seeing my old country through new eyes – I visit places as if I were a tourist, it actually makes it fun. A few friends I thought would be welcoming me back, have not even been in touch, despite me calling them. I have given up with a few. After so long, it is inevitable some people are not interested in picking up friendships again.

    My attitude now is “If you can’t be in the place you love, love the place you’re in”. Easier said than done, but life is too short to be wishing you were somewhere else.

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  236. Debora

    SusanD, you are totally right!
    But unfortunatelly, it’s like you said “easier said than done”. I’ve lived abrod for 4 years and it’s been a year since I came back to my home country. But, MAN! It feels awful! It seems I can’t accept nothing that is told me about my own country. I hate the musics, the way of living, the way people treat you, the places, restaurants… everything feels like worse than they were before. And I really don’t know if this feeling is gonna go away some day ( I hope so)! But I’m glad I found this blog, and I feel less lonely now, and agree with everything people wrote here. Well, at least we have each others to share our feeling and let things out, because sometimes I feel like running accross my country trying to release all the feeling and aniety I have been through!

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  237. Sam Wood

    SusanD,

    What is the name of your home country? The interesting thing is that your home country is probably the dream place for many of the people in the world for various reasons.

    When I was even a little kid, I always dreamed of travelling and going to far away places. I still do.

    In the west, people live to work and in the east despite all their problems work to live.

    I am seriously thinking on becoming a permanent traveler.

    Sam
    swyilmaz@gmail.com

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  238. SusanD

    Hi Sam and Debora

    Agree Sam, many people want to come to the UK (United Kingdom) for many reasons. I love the history here and the strong spirit of the British people, there are many positive things about living here. But saying that, because of my long time away and experiences living in different countries, I don’t feel like I fit in any more. I have been back nearly a year and I notice the underlying class system which I hated when I left. An example: I live in a small country village at the moment, and the first thing people ask you (a fellow Brit) is “Where are you from?” The question seems innocuous, but it is actually a way of pigeon-holing you in many many ways. I have lost all those social rituals that are a part of life here, I mostly don’t give a damn where people are from, and therefore I am a square peg in a round hole! I also don’t know how to answer that question as I have lived in 6 countries and am now a citizen of two and feel that where I was born is not important any more. I also do not feel like anywhere is home and have no real longing for that feeling.

    Debora, can you try to trick your brain into reacting to everything as if you are a foreigner where you are now? Look at everything as if you were a tourist? It works for me sometimes, then I don’t get upset with things that used to annoy me! I just observe, accept, and it is not so bad. When we travel we don’t usually get upset with all the differences we experience, I think sometimes it is good to apply the same technique at home.

    Somthing else that makes me stop and think and count my blessings (along the lines of what you say Sam), is that there are so many people who are displaced through no fault of their own, and many of us who have travelled have done so because we wanted to and we were privileged to do so. I try to be thankful for the experiences I have had – not saying to give up on future travels, but I try to remember that many millions are forced to leave their home countries through war, economy, oppression etc.

    Cheers all! Happy holiday weekend (freezing here!).
    SusanD

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  239. Debora

    Hey Susan, thanks for the advice! I really appreciate your words, and the chance of sharing this feelings, which many many people just don`t understand. That`s a good idea, and i`ll try to do that more often, there already are things that I try to see with a tourist eyes, and you are right, it works sometimes. But there is one more thing I`d like to ask you and anyone else who could have the answer; is there any chance of this feelings going away, with time?? I hope there is = ) . And just one more thing SusanD and sam, you guys are right, we should be glad for the chance we`ve had and for all the experiences. Awesome holiday for you all!!!

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  240. SusanD

    Hi Debora, sorry I am no expert on this, so can only give my experience. Having been back to my home country twice now, once after just a year away and again now after 22 years, for me it has been different both times. Prior to coming back this time, I really was dreading going through what i went through all those years ago (see my post from a year ago). I was young and I had just had my first taste of travelling independently and working in a different country for a year. When I had to return I was in an almost panic state that I was “going back” and that I had no future in my home country (economic and personal reasons). I wanted to keep travelling, find work etc. In fact i did make this happen after a few months back home, mainly fuelled by my panic and loathing of being there. This time it is different due to my circumstances, being older and being more relaxed about it all. However, i do have my moments when i wonder what i am doing here.

    So I can’t really say when or if those feelings will disappear, but I do think you have some control over them. Afterall, a place is just a place. The feelings are your personal reaction to where you are and how you perceive it. (I like to think of a place as just the wallpaper!). If you feel trapped in a situation, then you may also feel trapped in the place you are in. I think that you cannot deny the feelings, but you can acknowledge them, accept them and do your best to point your life in the direction you want to go. Sometimes it is a matter of being patient and just accepting that things cannot be forced and sometimes you cannot be where you (think you) want to be.

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  241. ruth

    I am part of an online group for people experiencing reverse culture shock. http://www.vagabondish.com/how-to-survive-reverse-culture-shock/ It has been very helpful to understand what I have been going through and to share my thoughts. I was thinking of you and wanted to share this with you.
    One of the good things about this group is it offers a space to get thoughts and feelings out. It is true as many have mentioned that no one else understands or cares. I am shocked that no one asks about the last 15 years of my life living in India, it is as if it never happened. That is one of the hardest things about my return to Australia; it is wiping the slate of my awesome past. For me the feeling of isolation, isconnection and loss is diminishing with time because I am forgetting how I felt before. I am getting used to this life. I collapsed in tears when I first returned because I knew I had lost an awesome life and I was extremely happy, it was still close and I could still feel the contrast, as time goes on I adapt to western suburban life and the bland routine and shallow social connections that are required to live it and I start to feel ok, what else can I do?
    I am working towards leaving again.
    As Sam mentioned he like many yearn to live in Australia it is touted as some kind of heaven, a lucky country. It is very clean, beautiful and feels pristine. It is not pristine it is an illusion an entire culture and environment has been decimated on these sacred lands, it has been superimposed with bland endless suburbs which all look the same, all void of culture and life accept BBQ’s and school sausage sizzles and a neighbourliness which does not move much beyond good morning. Life revolves around school, sport, church and not much else. People are warm and friendly but any interaction I soon meet with an impasse, I feel that I am an alien. I broadened my horizons and I no longer fit in here.
    I started a support group in India for foreign women married to Indians and living in India. I rarely felt there was need for support it was more about sharing the awesome life with people from around the world as xpats in Asia. That’s not to say that some hated India and were deeply unhappy but I flourished – I blossomed and I became that person that I had a feeling needed to leave Australia and go out in the world so that I could become me.
    Many people migrate to Australia and soon realise that they are very very far away. Australia is an island at the bottom of the world, in contrast to the rest of the world it is culturally one dimensional, limited in aspirations and options. Yes parts are multicultural but very little has been allowed to seep out other than food and I still meet many who are afraid to taste and are chilly shy of my husband’s Indian delicacies. Australia is also a nanny state so tightly controlled that to do anything other than take up a 9 to 5 job is impossible. Creativity and possibilities are stifled, entire industries squashed with legislation and the high expense of everything. Australians love their country and promote it like mad but that is because we are an island at the bottom of the world and we are out of touch and don’t know what anything else is like. That’s the problem with leaving you get to see what you like and don’t like about your own home, I like the environment but the people are empty and exhausted as they try to keep up with the Australian dream of a house and car, they think of nothing else. Give me an apartment any day in a vibrant city so I can get on with living, a weekend of home beautification and keeping out the weeds seems such a waist. I have often found that advertising on television says a lot about any country that I am in and Australia screams out loud and harsh adds for insurance and household disinfectant.
    Unlike the UK as Susan described Australia does not have a grand cultural or historical significance like much of the world. We do have an awesome aboriginal culture which one does not see or feel in the south, it is a decimated culture, swept under the carpet and in many areas suffering horribly – I feel their loss of culture and country and I deeply understand. There is nothing to see here unless you live for beaches and bush walking. I missed the beaches so much when I left the propaganda machine had me fixated; personally now they all look the same to me. Unlike returning to the UK its hard to be a tourist in Australia, I can only adapt to the suburbs. I now miss my walks past old Portuguese fishing villages and 400 year old churches in dynamic Mumbai, a walk here is just so boring. Australia is a dumb blond – good to look at but lacking substance. Ahhh I have become so critical of the country of my birth I envy those who love it and cannot imagine being anywhere else. It does not feel like home and I only want to be somewhere else.
    In Australia it is as if there is a propaganda machine telling us that people are flocking to live here, that we are a lucky country. The majority of people who come here come out of extreme desperation, they leave behind a home which they do not want to leave, they suffer loss of culture and country, however for many they are so grateful for peace, safety and finally being able to get on with life, Australia offers this to a few lucky and desperate people. People generally do not choose to move here if they are safe in their own country I know of 4 Indian families who came because of the hype and they all returned as they felt lonely, sad and depressed. I know many who came out from the UK also returned. It is expensive here, no much going on and if you’re a renter beware the houses up for rent are expensive slums and this I coming from someone who lived in India for 15 years.
    There is something exotic about this country. It has an island feel and I am trying to put It into words as I feel it will make me feel better. I know that when I leave I will miss the peace and quiet but Im not ready for it yet that’s for old people. Hmmm as I think about it…. Australia feels to me like is a big retirement village and a great play ground for children. My kids and older retired husband are happy here.
    I met some retired grandparents at a kids birthday party the other day, they had lived abroad their entire working lives and had just returned, I leapt on them and wanted to hear all about their adjustments. They were ok because they were ready to return; they were fed up with aeroplanes and were ready to come back to the quiet life of Australia. They were getting involved as volunteers to make connections and were happy to spend time with the grandkids. Im not ready and I am so glad I have had this time to understand the difficulties of returning, if I ever do come back again later in life I will be better prepared. I know that the whole of Australia is essentially the same and I can only live in a multicultural area in a city, life is too dynamic out in the world to sit here.
    When I first returned I felt so isolated and depressed, I felt leaving Australia in the first place was a huge mistake as I had lost the opportunity to build friendships and relationships here, I had done that overseas, I met many friends in India when I was having children and working and now unlike everyone around me in Australia I was without connections. I have re-connected with old school friends and have found that compared to the social life and extensive friendship circles I had in India they still seem to only know each other, there worlds have altered very little. Australia does not promote a social life. Isolation and depression are serious social issues in a country like this and I felt that heavily when I returned. Most xpats I have spoken to always talk about the great social life esp for those who lived in asia. There is life everywhere it is teaming with life and I got very used to the outside stimulation. For me living in India every day felt like “schools out for summer” – inspiring and inexhaustible possibilities of life. Here I wake up and think oh god this can’t be for real, how on earth did I end up back here and its another day void of connection with anyone other than my family. I miss the deep connections I made.
    I have met many news Australians through my work but I feel there is heaviness here an inability to really DO, there is a lack of dynamism. When I first arrived in comparison to India Australia feels like a dictatorship all perfect little sheep following the rules. Australians believe the hype, they are lulled into submission and believe they are lucky and therefore must be grateful to the government, corporates, doctors; all authority is good and professional and takes care of them, they are naïve allowing laws to chip away at any stirrings of culture and dynamism, laws presented in the guise of safety are unquestioned and make life less and less interesting every day without thinking of what is being lost in the process or questioning the relevance. Indians know everything is corrupt and I prefer to mingle and work with people who live in reality not on an island built on a fantasy.

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  242. Mona

    Ruth, I just read your whole post,and what you described of Australia, is also Canada,described to a T…its uncanny how identical the two nations are…same hype for “what a great and lucky nation we are”,same government control of real culture ,same everything!

    I have been back in Canada now for almost 1 1/2 years and I am hating it profoundly…I cannot relate to anything and anyone,and it certainly doesnt feel like home.its bland and I feel like a phd who has gone back to junior high…I feel humiliated,because I am older now, with a professional degree and multilingual,and here I am,back in this wasteland, and cannot find anything jobwise other than working in a supermarket or a boutique..work in the arts are limited and are always asking for ridiculously high qualifications…I have no idea what i’m doing here…its my own decision to come back, and so I am ultimately the one to blame…..,to keep my soul at least visually happy,I watch travel dvds to have some sort of escapism. My husband is European,and although I was partly hoping that he would like the change to Canada,I did find out otherwise from him, that he is ready to go back to Europe,because,apart from long bike rides, he finds life so boring here. We did make some international friends, but unfortunately they were all here temporarily on work assignments from their home countries. So luckily I have a second party who wants to go back to where I’d much rather be…so instead of feeling like I’m stuck in Canada once again, I am feeling some relief that soon we will leave again….

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  243. ruth

    thanks mona, yes I feel the same I get goose bumps when I am understood. Your word humiliated, i feel the same but could not unerstand why….,,i will think about this.my friend from denmark related to my post also. West has become too restricted by law.

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  244. Random G

    Likewise here in the UK. As my above post states, I absolutely hate it here. Six months in and I am at my wits end… The only thing keeping me here is my love for my partner.

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  245. ruth

    Hi all (again)

    Thanks for your posts…I feel so lost here and am so sick of beating myself up for that. I have intelligent family (well, some of them), and I still find I feel almost apologetic for ‘inflicting’ travel pix on them…pix of people I met who meant a lot to me..that and the fact that i’ve had to remove my Masters from my Resume because it seems no-one wants to know..i’ve moved into a retirement village (australia). there MUST be some people here who THINK! even occasionally…

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  246. viksdes

    I can well relate to this question on ” where to stay or where do I belong?” I have been fortunate to live in many countries and now when I go back to my home in India i feel I miss this warmth abroad. This lasts for a few days then I want my well organized life back. I crib and complain about our roads, the traffic, pollution, garbage, noisy nights and days. The very same factors in which I was brought up now seem too hard to handle. Yes we can or can’t be happy anywhere in the world. But then some of us just cant stop from exploring a bit more on what the world has to offer, a little different from our places or origin all the time.

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  247. Amy

    I was reading Ruth’s post about Australia and found it very interesting. I had been living in Australia for 6 years and just returned to the U.S. (my home country) in December 2011. At the age of 35, it was a big adjustment for me moving back to living with my parents. I had never been very close to them as they had been very controlling. Since I was 18, I always went to college or lived elsewhere. Besides CT where I grew up, I lived in PA, MN, ND, Australia and now CA (as my parents moved there).

    I thought that it would be easy to find a job. I have a Doctorate degree in Social Work from Australia, a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology from the States and a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the States. I was only able to obtain interviews for part-time jobs and haven’t had any official acceptances.

    Believe it or not, I found that I have to go back to grad school and get a Master’s in Social Work in order to become licensed as a Social Worker. Apparently a Doctorate from a foreign country does not count.

    Anyway, I decided to leave Australia. After 6 years of living there, 4 years being a student, 2 years waiting in limbo about my VISA, I decided that I was tired of not knowing if I would be able to stay or leave Australia that I might as well go back. Plus I had just ended a 2 year relationship with an Australian man. The hardest part was giving up a new full-time job I had gotten in Australia. I took a big risk coming back to the U.S. and having to start all over, find a job, maybe a new love, living with parents and making new friends.

    Even though this sounds simplistic, I learned to live more in the present. I realized that no matter where you are, it is important to try to be happy internally no matter what your outside circumstances are. I learned to be happy with myself despite having no job, no b/f, no money. I admit that I am very lucky as I am able to stay with my parents and at least have a house over my head. But I still have a curfew of about 10PM-11 at night and cannot go out every night.

    I had to learn to drive again as in Sydney I had depended on their public transport. I had to get a bank account and I tried to enjoy activities in the community. I took up Zumba and line dancing. I was frustrated that I wasn’t meeting people in my age group.

    I found that the biggest help has been meet up.com where I could find people with similar interests to spend time with. Meetup is great because people are not necessarily looking for partners, they are looking for friends. I can always find people who want to go to a hike, share similar interests, play badminton with. I have already made some very good friends.

    I agree Ruth that Australia has limited culture in some respects and there is a shelteredness about it. However, I think you can give yourself credit for surviving in such a place. Also, like you said, nature is wonderful in Australia and although people might not necessarily have substance, it does have fresh air (is not as polluted as Los Angeles, where I am living) and is an environment where a person could be adventurous. For example, Australia was the first place that I ever stayed in a backpacker’s resort, coed room, travelled on my own and it was close to Fiji and New Zealand. I was able to visit those places and enjoy sky diving and bungee jumping. I definitely recommend that wherever you are, try to take advantage of the opportunities because they are out there when you look for them. Give credit to yourself for doing all kinds of things even if it means being able to make it to the local cafe, etc. I found that it has helped with my recovery back in the U.S.

    My first 5 years of Australia were wonderful, however, during my 6th year, I got laid off, my boyfriend broke up with me, and I felt that I had no reason to stay. I had no family and it wasn’t like I was leaving a third world country as I was from the U.S. I was getting tired of Sydney, the Opera House, etc, everything was the same. I also was having bad memories and feelings of resentment that the list of occupations (for immigration) had changed and my occupation was no longer on there, therefore I could only apply for a temporary VISA. I was not offered sponsorship yet from my job. So I thought, where do I want to be for the rest of my life?

    When I came back to the U.S. I really thought I had made a mistake. At least in Australia, I had my own independence and freedom. Now, temporarily I am under the control of extremely overprotective parents. But I made this choice. Ultimately I am relieved at being back and I look back at my experience in Australia with pride. The people in CA appear to be curious about what it is like to live in Australia. I feel unique from others because I have not only travelled in Australia but I have lived in it.

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  248. Maria

    It is so interesting to read all you have written.
    Regarding Australia, I only went there on holidays and I loved it so much that it came to my mind that it would be nice to live there. But I also “felt” that I might feel lonely in this “perfect” remote island. Specially if you need some creativity, a bit of confusion, a lot of human contact and social interaction, a bit of human compassion, melancholy and happiness all together, some freedom…I got afraid of the feeling of remoteness so I completely understand Ruth’s feelings.
    Interesting that, although we have different cultural backgrounds, I am Portuguese, that fact of having lived abroad makes us somewhat more “analytical of reality”. We see what others do not see. Maybe we had to develop that sense in order to survive going abroad. The problem is that when you come back this capacity to adapt to other culture, to survive abroad, to have the courage to go…is no longer useful. You have to settle and this is the problem. For some it represents giving up dreams, adventure, the unknown, etc. At the extreme it means death (rhetorically speaking).
    I just read an article about the reverse cultural shock brazilians are having now that some are returning back home because the economy is booming. This article is based on a study done by a Japanese that studied the effect some japanese had going back from Brazil to Japan (there is a great community of Japanese in Brazil). It says that to go out it takes 6 months to adapt but going back it can take almost 2 years and in some cases psycological support.
    For me having friends who have lived abroad is the solution. I am lucky because almost all my friends are those who came from Macao, a former portuguese territory in Asia that went back to China in 1999. Others have lived in Africa in their childhood, others were born or lived elsewhere in the world. There are also those who, although haven’t had that experience are somewhat different but they are just a few.You can have a very nice life in your country if you create a group of those who lived abroad because they also had the same experience. They are generally more open, more tolerant and needy of social interaction because they had to do that abroad in order to survive. You cannot bare living abroad in isolation.
    I put here a suggestion: Why don’t we create a restricted group on Facebook with the title of this page?

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  249. ruth (struth)

    Hey, Ruth from the Blue Mountains – maybe we should start a “Ruth from elsewhere” group…or “Ruth, interrupted”. LOL.
    To avoid confusion by the way, I’ve put my nickname in as well as username…welcome back to OZ.
    So, to Ruth from the blue Mountains, I’m so sorry that you are experiencing what you are. Hell, I’m sorry for all of us.I have a new friend since arriving back here, and I was wondering the other night why I seem so determined to cling tight to our friendship, and then I realised she’s spent several years in Africa, Scotland and Saudi, so she HAS a clue. I was invited to Turkiye the other night and I nearly booked a flight just to get the f*&% out of here.
    I love that I’ve met so many people from around the world, and am in touch with many of them. Including all of you.
    I like the idea of a facebook page as suggested previously. We could share photos and stories knowing that the feeling and stories behind them are being heard! What do you all think?
    Till next time, fantasize that the people around you are intelligent lol.

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  250. ruth

    There are twoRuths on this group both in Australia. I amin the blue mopuntains where are you the other Ruth ?

    There are many things we can do to help us readjust, finding and securing a social life is very important. Unfortunately I moved to an area where this is very challenging and if I did need to stay in Australia I will have to move elsewhere. I was in a part in Sydney a few week sago there was about 30 people who had spent extensive time living and travelling overseas it was fun, I fitted in. I had great conversations.
    Two years to adapt sounds about right, but not for everyone. My friends mum took 5 years after living in Malaysia for 5 years and then returning to Australia, she has found a fabulous community and is now very happy. I have been here 2 and a half years but I went back for 6 weeks and have spent the last 6 months again in reverse culture shock. However I am not prepared to simply get used to it; life has to be as fulfilling! Im not prepared to sacrifice that now that I know what it is. Im adapting simply because Im getting used to it and that’s not good enough. Im also adapting because the complaining is too self-indulgent and I feel like a privileged twat. Rather than depressed I am becoming determined. I now know after living abroad what I like and need and what I don’t like and need. Unfortunately im not the outdoorsy type so what Australia has to offer isn’t for me. Im doing my masters in international health so I can secure a job abroad I need to keep moving – it will be a good life.
    It was a challenge getting used to living in India and I do agree I had to dig deep into my thinking to be able to cope with a country that allows so much flith, pollution, corruption and difficulties for people. But west has its problems they are just hidden behind a veneer of order and cleanliness. But there was not a day that I ever wanted to leave. I wanted to leave Australia and I never wanted to come back. I pinch myself for the first 5 years in living in India thinking wow I live here, now I pinch myself thinking shit how did I end up back here – this is all wrong.
    For all of us our difficulties lie in many places of our individual subconscious and psychology and we are all grappling with that. I am seeing a psychologist to help me cope. I am not bonded to my family and thus my country. Im sure we all have a lot which we learnt about ourselves living abroad and coming back has brought up confronting issue in ourselves – get help if you need it. In every expatriation there is an element of escape. I feel me in India I found my tribe India is good like that. I relate to being an xpat I felt I belonged as a foreigner in India.
    Oddly I first got a strong desire to travel when I was in high school. My school was on the edge of parliament house and foreign affairs in Canberra and the kids who went there were all diplomat kids from around the world and Australian diplomat kids who had returned and children of academics who had spent their life growing up in Africa and other fantastic locations. I found these people amasing, stimulating and worldly. Now Im back and I met some of them I was aghast asking how can you still live here when you know how awesome it is out there. They all replied that after moving around an entire childhood they only want to put down roots. I felt sad as they were living such a dull routine life consumed by daily suburban troubles and tiredness, they seem bland now. I know that’s harsh but the dynamism has worn off them.

    Thanks for sharing

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  251. Sam Wood

    Ruth,

    I am originally from Turkey. After spending 20 years in the U.S., I went back last year for about three months and expreienced the extreme culture shock. As I mentioned before, I was told that is is getting better especially when you meet other expats.

    I am not sure if I have done the right thing by coming back to the states. There is not perfect place as we all know by know. As someone mentioned a few days ago, life is too shorth to be misserable.

    I am actually facing a dilemma at the moment. I have a job offer pending from a solid company in the U.S. and have an offer from a company in Istanbul.

    Years ago, when I was in New York City because of a temrorary assignment, I said that to a person I met. “I am here because of a temrorary assignment” and his response was ” Aren’t we all?”.

    The emotions can play a trick on us as well. I felt so misserable when I was back to Istanbul, when I had a dream job and all. Now I am sad I am back in the states. Not sure if we pay too much attention to emotions.

    Lets be happy wherever we are.

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  252. mike

    I’ve just returned to Sydney after 6 years in Asia (Singapore). The first few months it was fine – just felt like an extended holiday. Then “reverse culture shock” hit me with a wallop. I no longer feel any affinity for this city where I grew up, which is supposed to be my “home”. If it wasn’t for my family here and wanting to look after my Mum, I think I would have already have gone back. I’ve never had depression, but this sure feels like it. My body feels so heavy that sometimes I can barely breathe! At times like that’s it’s just so hard to try and think positively and re-frame my new life here. I’m even considering seeing a counsellor.

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  253. ruth (struth)

    Hi Mike,
    Welcome to the RCS club :)
    My best advice for you mate is to see a counsellor if you want to. The combination of isolation on the social front and possible depression (me too) is a really scary one, so DO see a counsellor – I am, and it does help, not least because you can get an intelligent conversation. I’m not bitter and twisted about all Australians lol, but I did find it very hard to casually wander back into the things I used to do – the conversation HAD NOT changed in the years I was away, and that was enormously confronting and maddening and frustrating.
    Anyway, that’s my rant for the day. I hope you do follow through on talking to someone mate, even if only once. It does help.
    cheers,
    ruth
    ps. i’m only back here for my mum too.

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  254. ruth

    Sorry to hear that it is so challenging for you, my heart goes out to you. I was also depressed and waited far too long to get help. In Australia if you go to the GP they can give you a referral to a psychologist and you can get a Medicare rebate. You will get most of your money back. For me the intense culture shock and depression was mostly due to loss and I think it has been akin to the loss of a loved one. I also came back for my family and I needed to say sorry to myself because it was a move for others which I want to do, but disastrous to me, I needed to say sorry to the self which was so sad.
    The things which helped me
    Exercise, my body was vibrating on Mumbai, I was now in a quiet suburb, so quiet and void of life that I could hear my ears ringing 2. Seeing a psychologist. 3. Volunteer. Im now a volunteer primary ethics teacher in my kids school 4. HINDSIGHT. I now realise it is true that it takes two years to settle back, I went for a long vacation back to India at the end of two years and when I returned the reverse culture shock and depression was the worst ever. Two years has now turned into three. I have heard its best not to leave if you have decided to move, if you are committed to your move to Australia don’t keep going back. 5. Let go of the past life. Finally I have accepted that the life I left is gone, it is past. I can now put that life in the past without bursting into tears. It is my past lovingly stored in my head, there very few who are interested and its ok not to share – its mine to remember and enjoy. 6. Read books and go to movies (apart from work stuff I don’t do this) I know a lot of people here who live vicariously / abroad through books, someone else’s story is a great escape 7. Get out into nature / garden (something else I have not done but plan to) nature is what Australia has to offer. 8. Travel in Australia, I enjoy going to Byron bay and Canberra and hope to get to Darwin and Broome. I am also planning a road trip with an old friend to see old friends in the hills of Adelaide. 9. Give yourself time to understand your country again and when you are ready move to a place which you feel would best suit you and set up a home. For me I imagine that might be multicultural city Parramatta or Randwick. Or a quirky small town = Blackheath, tilba tilba, Berry or even Broome 10. Im aware that it will actually take five years to fully reconnect and have a community. Once you make new connections life starts to feel good again. It is the loneliness which can be so hard. 11. if your work life is not translating to Australia (what I was doing in India was not translating and I felt my work life was lost). There is a woman who runs a business called work in colour in the city (Sydney) she specialises in making career changes. Lastly; Im trying to be more Zen and Buddhist about life – let go of aspirations and just be.
    Ironically after seeing a psychologist I was able to think rationally and have a decent conversation with my husband and we have decided to leave. I now feel guilty for having my reverse culture shock tantrum and feel I must make as much of my time here as I can. I will feel sad to leave old friends behind and a few new ones and some of that comfort food from my childhood that I can only get here. Hindsight has shown me that if I had to stay I can do it, but I’m glad I’m leaving because in my heart this is not where I want to live the greater part of my life, hindsight has also shown me that a life out in the big world, standing at the top of the mountains is awesome; but also damn hard and isolating. It is similar to the experience of third culture kids – you may like to read some web pages about this. If I knew what this journey entailed I may have never left in the beginning. So much about Australia shocked me and there are many things I just don’t like / agree with; but one can get used to / fond of anything, that’s what I had to do when I moved away.

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  255. ruth (struth)

    hi again ruth :) thanks so much for your post. It was a relief but also depressing to become aware that ‘this’ may continue for a while yet, but as I mentioned to Mike, seeing a psychologist does help, not least because it got me out of the whirling thoughts cycle and gave me a focus.

    I wish you the best :)

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  256. mike

    Hi Ruth’s (there’s two of you?). Thanks so much for your comments and advice, it’s really been helpful.

    It’s strange, I was totally convinced I was doing the right thing by returning here, the honorable thing for my Mum. Family should come first, right? But now it feels like I’ve destroyed my own happiness for someone else’s. It feels like I’ve made the biggest mistake of my life. To make matters worse my decision to return also destroyed a promising relationship with a girl.

    Most of my friends in Sydney seem to have moved on in their life, a lot of them are tied down and/or married now. So I’ve lost the great social life I had. And because of the urban sprawl of Sydney, trying to organise any kind of group get-together with people is a nightmare! Everything’s so spread apart here. When I was kid growing up, I guess I thought living a suburb was ok (lots of space to run about, big backyard, etc). But now after seeing how most cities in Europe and Asia function, I find most of the suburbs of Sydney horrible places. Everyone’s in biggish, soulless houses, and there’s no sense of community at all. And it’s so quiet!

    It’s interesting that you say not to go back for a holiday because it just makes it worse… as I’m already planing one. Maybe I should rethink that.

    I will definitely see a counseler and see if that can help me. I know this is not just some mild mood swing. I’m so down I’ve lost all interest in things I’m usually so passionate about (music, books, etc). I’ve just started a new job and so have to put on a happy/pleasant face during the day, but feel the cracks may show through soon if I don’t do something about it.

    Anyway, again, thanks for all your help. It can only get better from here I guess.

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  257. ruth (struth)

    Hi again Mike,

    I’m ruth (struth), in QLD. I believe the non-struth ruth (lol) is in or near the Blue Mountains., and she has had some great things to say about this re-adjustment. I feel for her, actually I feel for us all.

    For mine (not feeling very verbose today) it just sucks coming back (ironic lol). May I make a suggestion? I noticed that you said that this is not a mild mood swing, and that’s fantastic that you’re aware enough to know that, but my experience of this re-adjustment period was, I beleive, made far worse because I spent a lot of messy-head time trying to explain it to myself. The best thing I’ve done since I got back last June was, simply, to give up trying to justify my feelings or explain them away. To quote someone (forgotten who) “It is what it is”. Once I accepted that I was messy and not coping at all (caught myself writing suicide notes one day late last year) I felt an enormous weight lift from me, and I could stop pretending, to myself more than anyone else. I think that was the clincher – in the middle of trying to appear happy for others (and they ALL expect you to be happy to be back) I was denying myself the right to feel grief – at the loss of what I’d left, the loss of what I’d believed was going to be my future, and the loss of my ignorance about this culture I grew up in.

    I don’t know why I’m doing this but if you want to talk, my email is ruth.perry64@yahoo.com.au. (I was going to put my phone number in, but that struck me as a bit weird lol).

    Hope you have a good day mate :) well, as best as you can.

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  258. West

    I am from Brazil and I moved to Newport, Rhode Island in 2006 when I was 13 years old with my dad and my sister, and my mom stayed in Brazil. Here i met lots of new people, was able to learn a different language, and traveled to England and Norway to visit my best friend. I will be graduating HS this year, but i didn’t get accepted in any of the colleges I applied to, which sucks… so i am planning to stay here for one more year and go back to Brazil, but i am really scared I’m not going to get used my old culture… i know i can come back at any time to the USA, but idk, i have so many choices but its so hard to choose.. i feel like living here in the US i have so much more opportunities, but idk if i will be able to accomplish my goals…i thought i was the only person with the same problem, but after i found this i am actually more comfortable because of the fact that i know that other people have the same problems… i just wanted to share my story, because i feel like you guys would understand me more than the people that are around me… I know my story is a little messy, i just wrote what came to my mind…

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  259. Daisy

    Hi everyone. I first posted on here in February and I have read with interest all the comments that pop up on this thread.

    When I first posted, I had only been back in my home country (New Zealand) for 2 months, and wow was I struggling! Now I have been home for 5 months, the initial shock has faded somewhat but I still have up and down days.

    I think one of the key things that has helped me is keeping busy, I have returned to university to finish my degree and I am really enjoying my studies. I have noticed that the friends I have made at uni are mostly international students, as I just feel like I have more in common with them, I haven’t lived in this country for 9 years and I am in a different city to the one I grew up in, so most of the time I feel like a tourist!

    I think that once we have lived abroad in different countries and cultures, for a long period of time, we become part of the International Community, regardless of where we were born. I am lucky enough to have 2 passports (one NZ, one European) so I know for sure that I will live abroad again soon, probably as soon as I finish my degree.

    In the meantime I am trying to live in the moment, and really trying to appreciate my country as it is stunning here, and so many people want to live here! I am trying to look at it through tourist-eyes and that does help. I think about my travels and my past a lot, but I try not to dwell as I get so homesick for England and Brasil (the 2 other countries I’ve lived in).

    Anyway, as a lot of people have said, it really helps to read all these comments and know that we are not alone.

    Feeling like you don’t want to live in your native country is a confusing feeling, and people can’t really understand it unless they have experienced it first hand.

    A few people have mentioned starting a private FB group, with the same title as this thread, I think this could be a good idea?

    Reply
  260. ruth (struth)

    Well said Daisy :)

    I live on the Sunshine Coast in Qld, and so, like you I try to see it from an outsiders perspective sometimes, and it is a pretty amazing part of the world. Remembering that does help most of the time.
    I like your comment about becoming part of the international community too. I’ve caught myself more than once actively trying to engage with people who are not Australian – and I didn’t realise I was doing it for a while. Here is very much a mono-culture, and I confess to following two women down the main street of Nambour once, just because they were speaking another language and it was so delightful to hear! :)
    Like you I think the idea of a FB page is a good one. Do you think the title of this forum is too long for it or not? Any other ideas if so?
    Cheers for now
    ruth
    ps I have a Euro passport too :) It’s very comforting lol

    Reply
  261. Daisy

    Hi Ruth, your comment made me smile, when you mentioned you followed people down the street because they were speaking another language; I felt the same recently when I heard 2 girls speaking German, on a bus. I didn’t want them to get off haha.

    Perhaps we could call the FB page ‘Vagabondish’? Or something similar? I always think of this as the ‘Vagabondish’ page ;-) or we could call it ‘Surviving RCS’ (Reverse Culture Shock). What do you think?

    And yes I agree, having that Euro passport is such a comfort, I feel like it is my ‘get out of jail free’ card! ;-)

    Hope everyone is doing well, I had a pretty rough weekend, I felt so ‘homesick’ for Europe, it brought me back to this thread…!

    Reply
  262. Mona

    Whoa,can I ever relate to all of this! My heart gets all pitter-pattery whenever I hear a European accent,I feel at once excited to hear it,and depressed because of the great longing to be back there,and I’m aching to talk to them! Sometimes I even smile at random new immigrants or visitors,because I want them to know that I understand them. Luckily,I too have the EU residence now,thanks to my Italian husband,so I also feel relieved that we are not stuck in my non existant past life in Canada forever. I feel like a wagon wheel that has been stuck in mud for two years. So grateful to have this forum to say what im feeling. I’m all for it,if a facebook group for RCS emerges,yes.

    Reply
  263. Daisy

    Thanks Mark – I just joined the group! Look forward to chatting with you all on there. Daisy (aka Tracey) :-)

    Reply
  264. ruth

    hi all i dont do face book. Anyone interrested in a repatriation club for sydney and the surrounds
    ? we can actually meet.

    Reply
  265. Laura

    Hi all,
    I’ve been following these posts for months and can really relate, so I’ve just joined the Facebook group. Actually I also joined a Meetup group (www.meetup.com) a few months ago called ‘Expats Returned Home’ in Sydney, but before I even got to attend a single event the group was cancelled because the organisers left the group ( I didn’t have the time or energy at the time to become an organiser myself). Ruth or anyone else in Sydney want to set up a replacement Meetup group?

    Reply
  266. ruth

    Sure i would like to try to meet. Is there an old contact list ?
    how many people from this group would like to meet?

    Reply
  267. Div

    Hello! Thanks for that article! It certainly gave me some new perspective. I’ve been back in Sydney now for about 4 months after 1 year in Germany travelling around and studying but I didn’t think that returning would have such an impact.

    @Ruth- Is there a group that could be meeting up for Sydney? I’d be interested in meeting. Thank you.

    Reply
  268. ruth

    Div and Lauran and anyone else. Do you think it is best to meet in the city ? I am in the city on wed 25th july
    or I can come down any other time you propose.

    I met an old friend the other day who was in Ireland for 1 year and he said it took him 2 years to readjust. Im wondering if Australia is particularily difficult because it is so isolated and the culture insulated, it feels abnormal here to me. Every event I go to I find boring and sad. I find people sad. Just a bunch of people sitting around drinking alcohol and mostly complaining….We are focused on all the wrong things. No color, life and festival its not people and family focused its all about house, car, keeping things orderly and safe and material possessions, everyone goes to work every day and gives away all their time in the persuit of things which dont seem to be very fullfilling its a persuit more out of fear of any other possibilities than the persuit of happiness. I have 2 more years before I can leave, counting down the days. Is anyone watching dumb, drunk and stupid on ABC ?

    Reply
  269. Jessica Hill

    You just put my feelings into words, and this has helped tremendously. I’ve recently returned to the U.S. after living and traveling in Southeast Asia, and I wasn’t sure I believed in reverse culture shock until now. Definitely seeking out the few people who do understand has been helpful, but I’m surprised that even those who are really close to me don’t seem to have much interest in, or they don’t know how to ask about, my experience abroad.

    Reply
  270. Div

    hey Ruth!

    Yup I would definitely up for meeting up in the city since I don’t drive.. yet, its pretty ideal.

    That’s exactly it, with every single event I go hence I just stopped going. The boring and sad part, I totally agree with. I just started thinking since most people in Sydney seem so to be soo bored and sad, a really different feeling from most people from where I was in Germany. I thought well there really are more reasons to smile than there are not to. SOOO i thought that i would be the change that I want to see in others, it is certainly helping. So everywhere I go just on my way to work or whatever I just keeping smiling and its really not soo hard to do- even of things aren’t so perfect-i think am pretty lucky compared to people in other places I’ve been to. It sounds stupid I know, but it works ( mostly). Sorry I just saw this post now since I’ve been studying for exams but its done =). I’m around the city again next Friday. Hows that for you?

    Reply
  271. ruth

    Sure would anyone else like to meet next friday in sydney? Can anyone post this on the face book page. And where ?

    Reply
  272. Div

    Ruth, I am soo sorry. I want to be there but there’s been a death in the family so I need to attend to family matters. I will certainly let you know though when I’m up to meeting. Keep me posted if you guys end up meeting though.

    Reply
  273. Gabriel

    Excellent article!

    I’ve just arrived from Canada after spending 5 months there in a High School program…
    Now I’m back to Brazil, and I was kinda of feeling bad and guilty, thinking that I was a ”bad person”.
    But what you wrote really made me feel better.
    I still wanna go back to Canada though…

    Thank you,
    Gabriel

    Reply
  274. ruth

    I will need to postpone for a few weeks a family member is in hospital. talk soon

    Reply
  275. j-me

    Mona —

    Reading your posts here has been so revealing. I just returned a week ago from study abroad in England, to my parents’ home in Ottawa, and life here, well… Canada Day was lovely, but since then it’s been slow and steady old Ottawa as usual. People would think the conservatism and predictability of life here makes it easy, but for me it honestly just kind of feels soul-crushing. I knew before I left that I didn’t want to live the suburbanite lifestyle that seems to rule here, taking a reasonable, general degree at one of the reasonable, local universities, then getting a normal, respectable job as a teacher or (worse) civil servant or something, and finding a nice, normal suburban boy to marry and buy a house in Kanata or Orleans, and a pair of bikes with accompanying MEC cycle suits to pedal around and show all the neighbours at weekends. I knew needed to get out of this town and see/experience more of the world, that’s why I opted for study abroad, cos it was the fastest way to get away for a bit. But while I knew the typical Ottawa life wasn’t for me I didn’t expect to find a place where I fit in so completely. So much about the culture (especially in academia) in England, I found to be much less competitive, much less based on shallow achievements and additions to the resume. The social focus and networks there really are like nothing I imagined, and I experienced people of diverse backgrounds (frankly IMO they kind of really put our much-touted Canadian “multiculturalism” to shame!) getting along and cooperating in a way that I had given up believing could possibly exist in this world.

    It was not my first time abroad (I’ve been to Japan for a semester previously as well) so I knew to expect reverse culture shock, but I never imagined it could get so bad. Especially given that at least on the surface, so much of UK/European life looks so comparable to life in Canada, I might have expected it to be easier than coming home from a truly foreign place like Asia. But instead I’m just lonely and homesick, feeling totally misunderstood by the people around me, and frankly kind of useless — people here don’t value the new things I learnt and experienced while I was away, and since they haven’t seen me in a long time, my family especially keeps trying to “help” and make my life “easier” by doing things for me, which are nice gestures, but end up just leaving me with more free time to ponder how much I miss the people, places, and things I’ve left behind. My motivation to do much of anything is pretty low and all I can think of is how I want to get out of here again.

    In any case I know these are not feelings that are foreign to people returning to their home countries, wherever they are, to places abroad. But reading your posts and knowing you’ve dealt with exactly the boring government town I’m now stuck back in, was sort of comforting. Thank you!!

    Reply
  276. Sarah Dowd

    Wow, I am so happy to have stumbled onto this article. I wasn’t sure what was happening to me this last two weeks after returning from a month and a half in Tanzania… I’ve had trouble with depression and anxiety in the past, which has been severe at times. I went to Africa, and had the time of my life– was healthier than I’ve been in ages, and had quite a few life changing experiences. I’ve always felt that I don’t fit in here in the states– with some of my opinions and attitudes toward things here. I can’t get used to the narcissistic, entitled dispositions of so many people here. I just don’t know how to get back into my life and feel like I’m “normal.” I don’t, and I don’t suppose I ever will. I’m just glad to see other people have the same feelings. I’ve stayed inside for the last few days, just not sure how to cope. But thanks to this article, I don’t feel quite so alone!

    Reply
  277. ruth

    Would any repariots in Sydney like to meet us next tuesday the 7thn in the Newtown area
    9 / 10 or 11 am

    Reply
  278. ruth

    Repatriation in 1947
    The other day I went to a kid’s birthday party, on two occasions a question came up to my husband and myself about India, in particular Bollywood an industry we were in for years. My husband and I happily began to recount stories and answer these questions, on both occasions I noticed people got up and left the room. I don’t think we went overboard. It astounds me that this is such a taboo. Like no politics or religion at the table. It is very hard to live in a place where the person you are and a large chunk of your life is not allowed – perhaps even disliked. It’s as if happiness and excitement are taboo and the same old conversation about school and television shows is only allowed. Truly I find Australia so bland and sad.
    I have been reading “plain tales of the Raj”, this book is a compilation of stories written by Brits who lived in India and was compiled into the BBC radio series “Plain Tales from the Raj” 1974. Since the British left India the Raj had not been spoken of or looked into, until the 70’s. Many of the stories of the repatriates are nostalgic and portray the feelings great loss. Many had spent many many years in India. They spoke of how they could not discuss this, how the gentleness, hospitality and courtesy of the Inidan could never be talked about openly. Vere Birwood wrote “There was total disinterest of people in England to India. We never spoke about it, we may be asked out of courtesy at a dinner party something about Ghandi or something like that, we just used to shrug our shoulders and the table and hostess were usually most relived that we had not got into the topic” The book goes onto say that many found England was flat and characterless.
    My own Grandfather spoke fondly of India and I think he may have felt this awful feeling of the repatriate after returning from the 2nd world war. He used to have a photo up in his house of his Indian friend. Years later my mother discovered their correspondence, they had a wonderful friendship. I visited the house of this man who lived just down the road from me in Mumbai.
    I only have long past friend here in Australia, people I knew 20 years ago before I left and after 2.5 years I am finding it very difficult to make new ones. We are leaving in 2 or so years. I have been invited to another party and I have declined. Looks like it going to be an isolated phase of life – im trying to embrace my inner hermit and remember this too will pass and soon we will be back in the big wide world.
    I read an article on repatriates and it said up to 40% of repatriates return within 2 years, it also said that many people who have lived overseas for long stretches often move and settle down to places where there a lot of xpats like Bali, Thailand, Goa or Spain. I can’t wait !!!

    Reply
  279. MMMUNCHIES

    Wow, great thread. I am currently still overseas, away from my small European country. Have been in China for 7 years and the last 1,5 yrs have been hard. Has anyone been in the situation where you get over the foreign place you are in, just lose the excitement? At the same time I cannot even begin to fathom going home so it’s a double whammy of not belonging at the moment and it’s dragging me down to unknown depths. GF and myself now considering moving to Vietnam to get away from CHinese madness but I can’t help worrying about never being able to readjust to Europe after 10 years away (I travelled for 3 yrs before China). I’m 35, own no property back home and have absolutely nothing in common with my settled ‘friends’. Any ever felt a ‘no-culture’ shock?

    Reply
  280. ruth

    I think when you have culture shock in the land one was born in its like “no culture shcok” Vietnam sounds fantastic ! I returned to Australia to buy a house and we have anough for a pretty good one – the australian dream was still surging in my veins. I also felt we SHOULD do some western practicle financial stuff, insurance, medical etc. I cant believe we have decided not to buy a house. and leave, but it feels right. The idea of putting down roots here feels very wrong. We do have an apartment in India. I will be living outsie all that western safety net and its liberating!. Its all just propoaganda to get your money anyway. Every advert here is for insurance or disinfectant. ahhh the fear !. I have nothing in common with my sad and safe old friends. We wont be back for many years, the world has opened up even further.

    Reply
  281. Amber

    Glad to come across this too! I have just spent the last 9 years traveling and living abroad and am getting on a place in a few hours to return to Canada. I’m anxious and know basically what to expect as the few trips I took back home showed me: very few people are interested about what you’ve been up to. They don’t know how to relate. On the other hand, I don’t know how to relate to stories about renovating the basement!

    It’s always nice to know that others are in the same boat.

    Reply
  282. Amber

    ahh! and not to mention the understanding everything that is going on around you!! I was at a dentist the other day here in Asia and for some reason they were playing an American radio station and the adverts… my, so manipulative and cheesy! It’s sooo much nicer not understand half of what’s going on. You can forget about controlled we are by marketers!

    Reply
  283. Rebekah

    It’s incredibly comforting to know that so many other people have gone through this. I got back from a week long trip to Guatemala in August, and I’m just now starting to feel the effects. Being my second year going, the reverse culture shock wasn’t nearly as bad, but it’s definitely starting to hit and hit hard. Being a college student, my funds are extremely limited, but I’m already dreaming and saving for a trip. I’m not sure where I’ll go, but I know I need to get out of America for a while. It’s like this horribly dull feeling in my stomach, and itching beneath my skin that I can’t get rid of. The feeling comes and goes, but right now it’s pretty prevalent. I’ve kind of stopped caring about my classes to a certain extent, especially the ones that I already wasn’t interested in. I’m restless all the time and sleep is hard to come by.

    There is so much that I want to do, and I feel stuck. I’m craving something new and different, but it’s just not possible right now. I guess I’ll just keep saving money and reading articles like this one :/

    Reply
  284. Jada

    Loved the article and yes, I can definitely relate! I don’t think this article mentions itbut I read in another article that another sign of reverse culture shock is you just have an emotional, and uncontrolable outburst. That happened today as I was sitting in church listening to a sermon. The passage was about Jesus teaching his disciples on who can be saved. Jesus says it’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle.

    The word “camel” had significant meaning to me because back in the summer of 2009 I took a trip to Inner Mongolia where I had a chance to ride a double humped camel. You can only find them in central Asia. So when the priest said that word spoke that word I got emotional and had to leave

    I’ve also lived in China for 15 years. I’d come home to Hawaii for a short visit. But then I would return to China. Life is just so much more convenient. I can just walk 10 minutes to the Tesco. I could just walk to a restaurant and eat well. Here in Hawaii, USA, I’d have to have a car or access to one.

    Another thing that exaserbates my return to the USA is I have an invalid dad who can’t take care of himself anymore. When I first returned from China almost a month ago the first question he asked was “what kind of Chinese food can you cook?” My father is an ABC — American born Chinese. He likes Chinese food. But I quickly figured out that he only likes Chinese food the way his parents cooked it. I, on the other hand, have learned to cook jiaozi (dumplings) and fang xie chao dan (fried eggs with tomato). He’s used to more Guangdong style cooking. But I’m more cosmopolitan.

    Because I’ve had such a long career in China I’ve also gotten use to not having family around. I could go to a club and drink cocktails with friends. I could just sit at home and chat online. Or I could travel. I felt free. But now that I’m back home it’s been difficult living with my parents and helping my mom look after my dad. Sometimes having family around is just toooooooo close for comfort and I just want to stay away from them.

    Reply
  285. CDawn

    Just wanted to say thank you for having this site up – Ive been home in Canada for 2 months after being away for 8 months in France and travelling Europe and I am definitely experiencing many of the reverse culture shock that you outline above. I have felt really alone despite being surrounded by my old family and friends and havent known how to fully cope. I mean, I guess I still dont, but at least I know this is relatively normal. Mona, Mat, Jess – thanks for sharing your stories, I am grateful to have read them and hope each of you are doing well.

    Reply
  286. Sclaire

    This describes exactly how I have been feeling since returning from the US in September, coming home to once familiar faces and the saddest part is seeing that it is YOU that has changed, things won’t be the same till I get back to NYC “those who live see… Those who travel see more”. P.s it gets better

    Reply
  287. Bruce

    Thank you for this article. I had the same experience returning from NYC to Paris. I was more adapted to the culture of this city than the one where I was born ! After five months I still cannot re-adapt to the sadness/impolite/non communicative/politically correct and stuck mind culture of “parisians”. My friends should desesperate to hear me complaining all the time about France, while I am influencing them a little bit. If the reverse culture shock is hard to live, may be it reveals something on who we are.

    Reply
  288. Mona

    What I would give to return back to Europe.

    Bruce- I’d give a king’s ransom to trade places with you.

    J-Me- I am sooo glad you read my post and that you can relate to everything I wrote about Ottawa.I thought I was the only human being here who felt this way.

    This thread is like my only forum where I can talk about the inner turmoil of being back in Canada. It has been over 2 years now, and I’ve had enough. I’ve worked diligently for the past 2 years to “live” happily among all the other canucks (Canadians) ,do the Canadian thing,shop the Canadian way, don the fashionless ski jackets in the ferociously cold winters,go to Canadian parties in the hopes of engaging in one interesting conversation (which never happened) and I knew all this time that I have been kidding myself. The whole “fake it till you make it” theory is not working out ,in terms of finding a place in this society and culture that I haven’t the slightest interest in.I feel like a forever outcast,no matter how hard I try. So now….no more pretending. The truth: I despise being back in Canada (and if I said that I’m ok being here,I’d be lying through my teeth) ,and have to do something about it….and soon.

    I left around 1996 (First time was 1989,but I had to come back) and have been living everywhere,from the States to Europe,and after all these years, I come back, and nothing at all feels good here,most of my family members have become complete strangers,and I can’t relate to one single solitary fellow Canadian. Unlike the rose colored world view (which I also needed to believe,and tried hard to convince myself of), I find my countrymen to be generally cold.cliquey,indifferent, uncommunicative (and the blackberry phone obsession over here adds to this already existant character trait) and self absorbed misanthropes. I can’t hold a conversation with anyone over here,and nobody has the slightest interest in knowing me, or what I have done,or where I have lived. I keep myself busy by doing my work almost obsessively ,and pumping iron for 2 hrs/day at the gym, all in attempt to numb my unhappy emotions in my home country and give me a goal to work towards leaving again. I had lots of good friends in the States,and Europe,and here I have not succeeded with anyone,other than a few great foreign friends who unfortunately have all left back to their homelands.

    Every time I see an airplane whiz by,longing hits deep in the pit of my stomach……”take me with you,please!” Three weeks ago, my favourite performer, Gilberto Gil, came for a concert,and for 2 precious hours, I had the pleasure of forgetting where I was…the sad reality hit once again as soon as I stepped back out on the street…:(

    Sorry to vent so much about my life back in Canada….sometimes I feel like I dont have the right,since we will be leaving soon anyway,and I know thats not the case with everyone in this forum. Regardless, I still feel a void,and still feel stuck in a rut of stagance. The only things that have helped me pull myself out of it have been my work (Im an illustrator/designer) ,watching foreign films, reading books on Europe,polishing my language skills, cooking foods bought from the international section of grocery stores…..and emailing my friends abroad.

    My life was by no means perfect in Europe either, I’ve had a few really traumatizing experiences there,which gave me post traumatic stress and caused me to regress in an unadmirable act of cowardice,give up all my dreams,and just come back to Canada,a place that is really no longer my home….

    I think we should all just follow our dreams, and if it means going to the place you desire to live, by all means,do it.

    I’m going to continue to do my work, get my site up,send it out with my cv to every possible place outside of Canada(luckily I’ll be getting my EU citizenship soon),and PRAY that someone loves my work enough to hire me….

    Reply
  289. sophia

    I study in the Netherlands and live in the uk, and will always remember my first time back home after 6months of living away. I felt so distant from my friends who now seemed to have nothing in common with me. After meeting some amazing people abroad and finally being surrounded by like-minded people, coming back to the uk was such an anti-climax. Though we’re not far from mainland Europe, there are so many differences; especially with social habits. And I had started to adopt these habits and thoughts and found it so difficult to go back to ‘normal’ with my friends. Most of my friends had moved away to study in the uk, with a few staying at home working, and we all had conversations about how each others study/work was going. But it was the fact that my study seemed so different and my experiences were different too that I would say one thing and would get no ‘oh yes I get that too!’ kind of response. There was just an air of disinterest.
    I just found it more difficult to enjoy being around my group of friends after being used to having conversations with very interesting people who enjoyed doing the same things I did.
    The dynamic of my social group in the uk has changed quite a lot. I will remain close with some of them, but as a group I dont think it will ever be the same. I may return to the uk after study, but it will be far away from my home town

    Reply
  290. Al

    I returned to the states after studying in Melbourne Australia for 3 years this past December. ‘On my way’ back I travelled to Poland to see family and Paris to see a high school friend I am still close with. I never thought I would find myself back in the Midwest and I did think I would live in Melbourne forever. Turns out Melbourne didn’t work out bc it is outrageously expensive and people are exclusive… Those were the main points I struggled with throughout the extent of my time there. Although I do miss the wonderful, mixed, inner southeast suburb I lived in, the walk to the beach and the coffee (soy flat white with one sugar, please) and cafe culture.

    I’m enjoying being back to the extent of reconnecting with friends and seeing how ghings have changed and how much more affordable life is here…but. The main feelings I’m struggling with are a deep fear of getting stuck here ( in the Midwest!!) and a complete disability to focus. I just feel like a cracked egg with the yoke oozing every which direction. I know I need to stay here for a little while and save up and get work experience so I can get a job elsewhere. It sounds fine theoretically but when you get down to it it’s terrifying. I even feel like I am somehow losing my past three years and reverting into the person I uses to be… It’s nonsense but it adds to my lack of focus going crazy feeling.

    Anyone else experience this? What did you do to refocus and stop the ‘future anxiety’ ?

    Reply
  291. kiwichica

    Awesome thread. I’m five days in to my RCS having returned to New Zealand from spain. I am the first to admit that spain for me was exceptionally hard for me in my particular circumstances.

    but its more about the feelings of being here, the sameness, that i’m back to the same place i was before i left and many of the reasons that posters have mentioned above.
    I wanted to add, that there is a terminology that is used, apparently at the AA, called ‘doing a geographic’ – They think that, “If I move to another city and start over with a new job and new friends and a fresh start, my life will work and everything will get better”. I was wondering if we are at heart addicts of a different type ?

    Reply
  292. Haide

    I´m still dealing with reverse culture shock after living in the USA for 6 years and Canada for 2 years…..I had to go back to Mexico City and I still can´t get used to living here again. I have some friends who lived most of their life in the USA too and I feel a lot more connected to them than with my co-workers or even my old friends who have never been living in a different place other than Mexico. Here, it´s hard to find people who speak a different languaje other than Spanish and get to know new people here it´s really hard because most of people don´t trust easily due to the violence, insecurity, and many social issues Mexico is going thru. I´m really thinking in going back to Canada as permanent resident , since I will have a better quality of life and I could be more financially stable than here. I wonder how long does reverse culture shock lasts? I´m trying to get used to my own country and for me it has been almost impossible, and most people don´t understand it!!

    Reply
  293. Robin

    The Bogans… the bogans!

    I’ve just returned to Perth after living in Switzerland for 5 years and am battling with Reverse Culture shock. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy but I didn’t think it would be this hard. Perth is backwards in so may ways starting with nutrition (fast food on every corner) to transport. I am having trouble getting used to the fact that I now have to drive everywhere again – public transport is useless for all except those who live near the trainline. It will take time to get used to it again and there are a lot of good things about Perth. There is space.. and there is a lot of pristine untouched nature. Once they put in a better public transport system it will become a very livable city. The part of population that isn’t bogan is happy to hear your stories from abroad and many have their own stories and experiences. The part that is bogan… that will take a lot of time getting used to.

    I think to everyone that has reverse culture shock you have to remember what made you come back. And what made you leave the place that you were living. I was hating the long dark winters in Switzerland and I have to remind myself constantly why I returned here: Friends, family, weather, nature and opportunity.

    Nothing is forever – even though I was toying witht he thought of returning back to Switzerland I think I owe myself to give it good try here. If I don’t like it in one year I can still leave.

    Looks like there are quite a few of us with this issue :)

    Reply
  294. Liliana

    The only thing I can recommend is a few months before your due to head back to your native country start to get back in the mental state of being there by looking at things online. Start looking at what jobs are available, at rental properties, even things like what bands are coming to your city. Anything that will get your mind used to the idea of going back. After living in Colombia for over two years, I started researching what was happening back in my hometown months before I went back. I also started connecting with friends from my hometown more on facebook and skype in the months before coming back. It made the transition a little easier.

    And always remember that you managed to adapt to a foreign culture so you have the strength to adapt back to your own and like all things it just takes time.

    Reply
  295. Vladimir

    Reverse Culture shock is probably the greatest in the United States. I have had the priviledge of travelling overseas a number of times and returning to my country a number of times. When i would return and think of a successful small business idea, the elite class in the country would hate me for creating employment and motivate their worker’s class to hate me as well. This resulted in one civil rights suit and numerous occasions of landlord interests, tenant interests and working class interests either trying to exclude or trample upon my rights as a citizen. The best recommendation that I can give is from Thomas Wolfe’s 1940s novel titled: You Can Never Go Home. The best advice , especially if you come from a country like the United States is to keep travelling. Enrich yourself culturally. Acquire a skill. Stay away from the causal attributes which caused you to travel from your country of origin.

    Reply
  296. J

    I have been living and studying in Japan for about 10 months now and here I am sitting in front of my laptop, cramming for a kanji exam and searching up this stuff. All your posts make me feel not so alone!

    I fell head over heels for this country when I first visited in early 2009 in my lat year of highschool, confirmed that in early 2011 (when I could actually speak some of the language and travelled for 6 weeks) and have somehow managed to enter the country about 7 times now in the space of 3 years. I am the finance Japanese major who was driven for a long time to enter a large trading firm and drive my career working 60hour weeks but I don’t even care about that anymore… I would much prefer do anything to be here (because happiness is what matters, right?).

    Not only do I prefer my Japanese-self (language changes personality a lot), but I have amazing friends, love the food culture.. in fact, love the fact that this country, even where I live in Tokyo, has so much tradition and unique culture. I am returning to Sydney where there is a culture of drunken idioticity and aggression, public hatred and racism, no respect or manners. I went back in March for a week (cousin’s wedding) and I couldn’t return to Tokyo soon enough! I actually cannot stand people in general there, I feel like such a bitch but it’s just true.

    And to top this all off I have met a really amazing person who I really want to give a chance having in my life. in 7-8 months I have something that is quite amazing and it is distressful to not be here working on it. Instead, I am going to be on a plane in 7 weeks sobbing hysterically and with mixed emotion (looking forward to seeing family of course), with very few who can fathom the fact that I am unpatriotic and prefer another country. I think the so-called Australian lifestyle is so over-rated – I am over the phase of wanting to binge drink, be yelled at by men on the streets and always disappointed with overpriced and bad quality food. Yes I miss good coffee, and… and… wine? But I am dreading the pathetic public transport, uneducated delinquents that scatter most of the streets, and horrible store opening hours. Don’t even start me on the fact that we don’t really have convenience stores (except for right in the centre of the city).

    I am glad that there are a few Japanese-obsessed people in Sydney though! I will definitely become very close with them soon :) we will plot our plans to get back to Japan as soon as possible – in my case, job hunting for a graduate job here starts in September so all keep your fingers crossed for me!

    Anyway, I felt like venting so thank you for those who read. If you hear of a plane being delayed from Japan to Sydney in early August due to a customer-gone-mental patient, it’ll probably be me. I cry every time!

    Reply
  297. Barbara

    My countdown when I may have to go back to the USA from China is now 21 days. I am dreading going back. Just hoping my work visa will come through and I’ll have another year here.

    Reply
  298. Angel

    This describes going to and from Afghanistan quite well. This is post-deployment shock 101.

    Reply
  299. Mark

    Been interesting reading all the submissions, I am sitting in a room on my parents place in rural NSW looking out at the river and vineyards surrounding, I have been oseas for 17 years and am sitting here numb, I had built a picture of Australia based on not being able to be here, I had been in oseas courts with my two children born there who id raised on my own all these years, they are 13 and 16 now but after being here a week the reality of the one dimensional aspect of Australia is hitting me the school is getting more fro my children than they are getting from it. It feels wrong to be back all reverse culture shock aside I plan to return to the UK shortly I work in the design and cultural arts field so have had the enjoyment of being surrounded by layers of arts and like environments, I know there are sections within Australian culture particularly city centres but, I find many of the points above identifiable, Im sitting here right now doing several bits of design work for european clients all wanting me back I look around at the same work here and its all quiet static, interstingly most of the best designers here are european.
    I doubt I can reconcile being here for much longer, my stuff is in storage in Belfast I sold a beautiful house, although even with a bad recession rising fuel and domestic costs the social element is magnetic, yes Australia is warm and friendly I see that, but there is just so much more history and depth where Ive been, I Love australia and am proud to be an Australian but I am now as many years in Europe as I ever was here and that has redefined me as a different person now, one whos identity doesnt sit easily here anymore… not a shock becuase the process to move back has also been the process that has clarified perhaps the next move.

    Reply
  300. Melli

    I had tears in my eyes reading through all the comments here: simply because of the relief that I now know what is wrong with me and also because I am so lucky to have found you all. This is a wonderful community of people. Everyone here has been so supportive of each other and I’m just so glad,it’s encouraged me. I’ve returned from WestAfrica – it’s been a couple of months now since the return back and I’ve found it desperately hard to be back.
    I’m temporarily living back with my folks which doesn’t help. I’d had an increasing feeling of being totally lost and that I didn’t belong. I’d also lost interest in everything and I couldn’t put my finger on what,specifically was wrong. Today, I reimersed myself in a hobby I used to do and used to like before I left the U.K. I went to a class, met some old friends, which was great, but I came away with a deep sadness and unsettled feeling. I thought that I was really depressed. I started to worry about myself as well because I just don’t fit in anymore – I thought maybe I’d become really strange, and that there was something wrong with me. So, in a sad state – I got on the internet and typed in what I was feeling. Thank you lovely people – I found you! I feel much better just knowing that you are there too.

    I’d like to help if I can by repeating what a few people suggested earlier, that I found to be true for me- It’s not necessarily a good idea to back to old environments/past times that don’t fit for you now. Definitely keep yourself active, do things that you enjoy, whatever that is, do something new and set yourself new challenges too. I can say this now – someday’s I have struggled to communicate at all, and there may be more days like this (though of course I really hope not). I’m definitely taking it day by day, and trying not to be so hard on myself on my bad days. We have to ride through it, but, man, it can be tough. I know and I empathise and I just appreciate so much that this RCS site and community exists. It’s a shame that we can only meet and share virtually – it would be great to meet up with everyone here. We could at least talk about the countries we’ve lived in and enthuse about each other’s experiences! Big love to you all and Thank You

    Reply
  301. Nate

    Really refreshing hearing everyone’s experiences, stories, and feelings. I am from the states and have spent the last 3 and a half years living in London, UK. I’ve been back stateside for over 2 months and this “reverse culture shock”, depression, or however you want to label it, only seems to get worse as time passes.

    When I first got back I was torn with all different emotions. I suppose for a few weeks you’re kind of excited in a few ways. New adventure, seeing friends, family, eating old favorite foods. These are the feelings you would get if you were visiting home for a vacation, or holiday. Now the realization has really kicked in, the one where i realize I’m not going back to my beloved England. Not because I don’t want to, but because of immigration and visas. I think most of my negative, hopeless, depressed feelings come from not having a choice. It’s like a forced breakup with the one you love and I’m just trying to learn how to break up with the city I love the most.

    Some days I feel like I’m going to go crazy, that I’m stuck here, forever. The last few years have changed me so much that being here doesn’t work anymore. I went from being happy, passionate, loving life to the max, to being numb, angry, bitter, and jealous of those who can move to England without any second thought. I don’t know how I’m supposed to live like this, for I think I will forever feel this way inside to a degree, unless I somehow got back over. Problem is, it’s nearly impossible to get back over.

    I simply feel stuck and that I’m about to serve a life long prison sentence. No matter how busy I am or not, everything reminds me of where I am and where I am not. England has become a part of my DNA, and I suppose I’m afraid of losing those pieces; however, I feel as if I have to lose them to fully move on. There lies another problem.

    Really glad to see I’m not the only one. I’m struggling beyond belief. This is a nightmare!

    Reply
  302. Nate

    Apparently I’ve found this blog and the comments too late, for no one really posts anymore and I sure as hell could use an outlet at the moment.

    I’m just so bitter right now. I’m at the point where I don’t want to talk to any of my friends from the UK and Europe, or even read facebook anymore because it just makes me realize what I don’t have and what I can’t have. I’m trying so hard to forget about my time in London and tired of seeing all the constant reminders surrounding me day to day.

    The worst part of this whole thing is the fact it was forced, visa expired. Not having an option to go back (I’ve tried everything, immigration sucks!!), being helpless and realizing I’ll most likely never be able to live in the city I love the most just rips me to pieces inside. Some days are ok but I’m really struggling inside.

    Reply
  303. KB

    Hey Nate,

    I was in the same boat, and I too am struggaling. Visa expired, and I also had no choice but to pack up and come home.

    I’ve struggled with finding a job just to make money. I don’t even know what direction I’m supposed to go in now. It’s nice to see that this thread exists for people like us.

    Melli, I’ve also cried reading the other posts. :(

    Reply
  304. Nate

    KB,
    Good to see someone else is still reading this site! I’m sorry to hear you were in the same position, for it it truly terrible one to be in. There’s a difference between deciding to leave on your own terms and that of being forced to leave prematurely.

    Immigration is a frustrating thing. I was just working and paying my taxes, what harm was I doing? I wouldn’t mind being here for a year as long as I knew that this was temporary and I could go back anytime that I wanted, problem is that option doesn’t exist.

    Like you I don’t know what direction to go in, all I know is a huge part of me has died and that I haven’t been my same happy go self since. I recently started a job and I’m not liking it. It’s making me question everything, from do I even belong in this line of work, what’s my purpose in life now, how can I find happiness, where am I supposed to be!?

    I’m just living day to day existing, doing what I have to do for the time being, but there really is no satisfaction anymore. I don’t think I’ll truly ever be the same again, I know I’ll get on with things and be happy in other ways, but the longing I have for my adopted country will never fade, and I don’t think I’ll ever be as truly happy as I was during the years I spent there.

    Reply
  305. Chrissy

    thanks for this amazing article! i am 30, from california, and for the past 2.5 years have been traveling back and forth workin in california and living/working abroad in ireland and also one year in australia! i always have difficulty coming home again because i love my abroad experiences so much, and i def have been down since i have been home! however reading articles like these have been so helpful to me, keeping busy, and moving forward! and also realizing i can always take mini adventures when the time permits! i still keep the thought that who knows, maybe i can live abroad more permanently in one of the countries i love! we shall see

    Reply
  306. nate

    I really wish people still read and contributed to this site!! I haven’t stopped on here in a bit, but i feel the need to vent again. I’ve been back stateside for 5 months now and I can say I still miss London and my life in London every single day.

    I’ve been really busy these past few months, settling into work, couch surfing, and finally finding a place to live. That was all good because it did take my mind off things a bit; however, these feelings never went away entirely and I don’t think they ever fully will.

    I’m just not happy here and in this country..it simply just isn’t for me or where my heart is. The one place I truly felt at home, well it’s nearly impossible to get a visa now. Thanks a lot UK immigration!

    I’ve had so many desperate thoughts about getting back there and I realize that none of them are a possibility. I’m even considering a move to Ireland in 2015, if I can get a job and stay long enough to get citizenship, which would then open up borders to me. I don’t want to be stuck in the country forever, and I pray that someday I can find my way back to my beloved London, where my heart truly belongs.

    Reply
  307. Monica

    Hi ,
    My name is monica I just moved to Zurich Switzerland last weekend from India. I moved here because my husband got a new job initially when he asked my opinion on the relocation I was so excited I was waiting to move and try all sorts of things. I left my mum my dog and my people and friends back home, although Switzerland is a wonderful place I so don’t wanna be here anymore I just want to go back to india I am desperate and unable to sleep I cry all day not able to cope with this separation from my pet and home as such, I think I wanna take the next flight back and go back

    Reply
  308. Miss J

    Thank you so much for sharing everyone! I’m not going crazy, it’s just RCS! I have returned to Europe after 5 years in U.S. and I’m experiencing so many emotions described here. My former happy, outgoing and active self is being resentful, sad and lonely. It’s like someone died. For the first time in my life I don’t have a clear vision where I’m heading.

    My social life here has suffered during the years I spent elsewhere. I haven’t been able to find a job. Money is tight and work would make it easier recreate my social life. I don’t enjoy same things I used to. Everything here seems boring. I’m having trouble sleeping. Wondering if I completely screwed up my life – by first going away and then coming back. I had a good life here before leaving and I just loooooved it in the States. Now it’s like a dark tunnel with no light in the other end. I feel like I might be a bit depressed for the first time in my life. Hey, I’m a person who used to wake up super excited thinking that every day is a great adventure!

    I have been back for about 6 months and I’m just really, really waiting it to get better. I thought I would give it a year. I hate feeling that I spend a year of my precious life being so miserable and unhappy. I hate not knowing what action to take to make this dark cloud go away and the happy me emerge.

    Thank you for this wonderful community! It helps to realize I’m not the only one and that this too shall pass. Love to all, wherever you are!

    Reply
  309. Nate

    Hi Miss J, welcome! Everything you said I completed relate it! I could have wrote your post myself!

    Reply
  310. Miss J

    Hi Nate!

    Thanks for feedback! Feels good to know there are others out there going through this. I’ll keep on checking this out every once in a while. All the best to you!

    Reply
  311. Ben

    I’ve just returned to London from a stint in Brazil, and can relate to this article in a massive way.

    Just overhearing people conversing in English has been grating on my nerves today; everything seems drab, and grey! I can’t cope with the sound of the television, and am finding music is just irritating me (unless it’s some kind of Latin Jazz, and then I inadvertently find myself looking at flights to Rio) At first, it was nice to get home and see people (who yes, really were not massively interested in the ins and outs of my trip at all)

    My partner who was in Brazil with me has gone back to his home in Manchester and I feel completely isolated; it’s like I don’t know how to be here any more.

    I know that it will pass (I have been through this before after returning from Australia), but thus far I have redecorated my house, replaced most of the furniture, filled it with tropical plants . . . anything to try and make it feel like ‘home’ again (or should that be home away from home?)

    Alas, I know there is still a ways to go before I feel comfortable in my own city again… It’s a horrible way to feel, and people just do not understand when you try to explain your feelings and assume you are on a holiday comedown, not appreciating that you have immersed yourself fully into another culture for a long period of time.

    It is hard not to get frustrated and angry with the people who say ‘you’l get over it’ – I know I will, but right now it seems like it will never end!

    Reply
    • nate

      It’s funny “one mans trash is another mans treasure”. You returning to London and feeling gloom, feeling gloom for the city I desire the most! I’d do anything to be able to move back to London. I live in NYC and a lot of people would do anything to live here but yet all I can think about daily is London and my life in London. I mean I really miss the city in every way possible..every aspect really, but I think most of all I miss my life and friends there. I simply just enjoyed my life there more than I ever have here or anywhere at that. For me it’s just that I found somewhere that fit well with my lifestyle and the worst part of it is being forced away from it. It’s different if one chooses to leave, but to be forced against your will, well yeah…even worse.

      I’ve been in and out of relationships but for me this “breakup” has been worse than any relationship breakup. London is my true love and there’s nothing I can do to get back thanks to immigration.

      I also get you on people when you get back. People simply can’t relate. Not many people want to hear about it when you get back and the few people who do listen don’t want to hear about it for too long neither. People get tired of hearing about it which sucks for people like us. 6 months on and these thoughts hit just as hard as when I had to leave and they’re still with me daily. It’s a terrible feeling. I feel like I don’t belong here anymore and I’m stuck. I’m planning to look for jobs elsewhere in Europe, mostly Ireland in hopes of leaving the USA again and taking a desperate route of obtaining irish citizenship…all in hopes that one day I can live in London forever. It’s a shame you can trade passports with people who want to switch with you, for I would in a heartbeat!

      When I left the USA years ago for England no one told me there could be a down side to living years abroad. Its been the most challenging thing I’ve faced thus far and it feels like my longing for London will never pass. You know when you meet someone, or like something, you just know it’s right for YOU…that’s how I feel. London is the only place that’s ever truly felt like home to me and the only time I’ve ever been truly happy and carefree in my life. A part of me has died since then, the happy part and I’m trying to find my way back to it. Good luck to you!

      Reply
  312. Luz

    I am so happy I found this site. In my case I return to Puerto Rico After 13 years of living in NYC. At the begining it was not hard at all, but now I feel like I want to run. I love my country, but I feel that I cant connect with anyone at all.

    Reply
  313. jetjet

    Hi all,

    It’s been more than 3 years since I am back from a long stay in Japan (5 years). I posted 2 messages on this discussion in 2011. I can now answer two questions: Was going back home the right decision? Do I still feel RCS?

    From a professional point of view, leaving Japan was the right choice: I went to a business school and got a far better and interesting job than the ones I had in Japan. The funny thing now is that I work in the European office of a major Japanese company who refused my application when I was living in Japan…

    From a social life point of view, I cannot say it was the right choice: My old friends got married and had children while I was partying in Tokyo, and today they are busy with their family. I had to make new friends, quite tricky when you’re 35 y.o.
    I started new activities like learning different music instrument, which is great fun and which I would not have done if I had stayed in Japan. I broke up with my japanese girl friend, the long distance between us smashed our couple after two years of not seeing each over, and I am single, not to say lonely, today.

    I feel closer to my family: I can see my parents getting old, I was there when my grand-mother died or my cousin got married and had babies. When I was abroad, life was more easy and immature somehow without any family constraint.

    Do I still feel RCS?
    As you know we have a selective memory, mine keeps the good moments and forgets the bad ones. I often think about Japan and the excitment I had over there. I must admit that I am not so enthusiast about the surrounding and the atmosphere of the place I live now… It’s just so “normal”.
    I don’t feel strong RCS anymore. Only sometimes, when I am alone, I think about the life I had abroad: I can smell, hear and see the streets of Tokyo.

    I would recommend you guys who are back home to read Karen Blixen’s “Out of Africa”, she probably suffered a heavy RCS. You’ll certainly find a part of yourself in that book.

    All the best and keep travellin’ :)

    Reply
  314. nate

    Update. I lived overseas for 3 years and I had to leave due to immigration. I lived back in my home country for a year and hated pretty much the whole year. The only nice thing was seeing my family more often.

    I was very fortunate after me spamming my CV to loads of companies back in Europe and landed a work visa/job! Been back overseas for a few weeks now and my soul feels alive and well again. I’m very happy/grateful for this opportunity. Living in my home country is unbearable to me. Best of luck everyone!

    Reply
  315. Niki

    In two days, I will have been stateside for five years. I had hopes that earning another degree would lead to greener pastures, but so far it hasn’t. I have to be honest that my newest degree isn’t really something I am that interested in doing, but it was paid for by a grant and there wasn’t any work when I initially came home. I was lucky enough that it led to another teaching job, but as an adjunct my hours are never assured and new state laws now limit me to twelve hours per semester. So, it looks like I have to keep that second job for a while longer. Even though I have found people who “get” why I liked living abroad, I do not have much time to meet them nor are they close by.

    Everyday I think about going back to Asia. As imperfect and frustrating as life was at times, at least it felt like an adventure. Every time I could understand a new word or phrase, or recognize something on a menu, it felt like a little victory. I also miss the friendship of fellow expats. Friendships seemed to develop faster…maybe because most of us were on one-year contracts so we all made the most of our time together. Everyone here is so busy just making it that there is little time for friendships.

    Then there were the locals…whether they became my friend or were just the bus driver who smiled shyly at the foreign girl everyday, I miss them. I also miss public transportation. Driving is a must in my current home as everywhere is far. I feel like I waste so much time driving. It’s an hour to work and an hour home, and it’s boring and exhausting. I would love to change up the route, but there are too many trees in the way. Around here, the opening of our first ALDI market is considered big news and the most exciting thing that has happened since we got a Chick-fil-a (and those are both thirty minutes away).

    Anyway, I’m hoping to go back this year. Being home, I just don’t feel like the person I am meant to be. I was a happy person once…I’d like to be that person again.

    Reply
  316. Heather

    I just returned home to the US after living in Egypt for more than 12 years. I’ve only been home for a month. It has been very difficult. I was used to visiting once or twice a year for about 3 weeks, but to know I am here to settle, it is hard to handle. No one really understands or can identify what it is like to live abroad. Living overseas was always an exciting adventure. There were challenging times, but I was never bored. Like the article says, I feel trapped. I am afraid of not being able to travel again or as easily as I could before. I now have to find a job and live on my own. I miss being able to practice speaking Arabic with others. It’s not very multi-cultural where I live. I plan to move to Washington, D.C. which will allow me to walk around more like I used to and meet people from all over the world. People say it will take a while to adjust. But I sure do miss living abroad. Any chance I get, I will find a way to get out there and travel again.

    Reply
  317. Ken

    Found this page and fascinated by all the sharings going on here!

    I got back to my home town in Malaysia after studying five years in Australia. I am too suffering from mild depression due to this reversed culture shock . I am also heavily masturbating and watching porn since coming back home, in an attempt to avoid the painful feelings caused by this reversed culture shock. This porn issue has been a struggle for me, still trying to solve it but anyway it is a side topic.

    Basically the problem revolves mainly around language issue. It is really weird but I do have problem communicating with my parents in the dialect which I grew up speaking to them for more than 15 years. I somehow now despise speaking this dialect mainly due to two reasons: difficulty in expressing myself when discussing complex issues, and its lack of popularity in the world. I am a Malaysian Chinese, and in Australia I only spoke English and Mandarin, and I think that’s the reason why I would feel uncomfortable speaking this dialect after not using it for 5 years in Australia.

    I don’t know if i should request my parents to stop speaking this dialect to me, and instead speak Mandarin to me (as we’re both quite fluent in Mandarin; my parents are not fluent in English). But I imagine it can be very weird. There are also a lot of people and cousins whom i know through my parents and we all speak this same dialect to each other. I just really can’t express myself fully in this dialect anymore, and the interesting thing i notice, is before i went to Australia, I actually hung out more with my school friends who speak Mandarin to me than with those who speak this dialect to me as I can express myself so much better in Mandarin, and the fact that I stopped using this dialect for 5 years making me even more reluctant to hang out with those who speak this dialect to me, as I seem to want to avoid speaking this dialect as much as possible.

    Another issue I encountered is also something to do with language. In Malaysia most Chinese know three to five languages due to the multi-cultural environment. Also for this reason, we speak very “mixed” language. For example, when we speak Mandarin, we will mix two to three English, dialect or Malay words in the otherwise Mandarin sentence. I had no problem speaking like this at all, until I went to Australia. I met many Chinese friends who came from China and I have learnt to speak proper Mandarin without mixing words from other language in a sentence. In Malaysia not only we speak mixed language, we also often do not use the right words and pronunciation when speaking Mandarin. After been to Australia I just have this desire to speak like how I speak to my China friends in Australia. I just love to speak it that way because it sounds very nice and makes me feel dominance in my first language which is Mandarin. However with Malaysians, it will sound very weird when you speak the “proper Mandarin”. For some reason it makes me feel dumb and “inferior” to speak mixed language, and even more depressing to have to speak “mixed Mandarin” with Malaysians when you know how to speak 100% pure Mandarin.

    Do you guys think that being dominant in at least one language is important to grow “effectively” in knowledge and intellectually? Because for some reason i actually feel “smarter” to speak fluent and proper Mandarin compared to speaking mixed Mandarin.

    Thanks ahead for the comments to my post!

    Reply
  318. Michael

    Wow. This conversation is still going – amazing! I first posted on this site in 2010, after three years in China. At that time I expressed concern about the effects of RCS upon my eventual return. Well, in July 2015 I will finally return to Brisbane Australia. I don’t know what to expect now (I’m scared as hell) but I do know that life will be very different from what it was eight years ago. I’m definitely going to keep an eye on this blog.

    Reply

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