Wry Exchange

Reverse Culture Shock
06-30-07, 10:45 pm
Filed under: Culture, Exchange Students, Home | Tags: , , , ,

11 days until the Boy returns to his ‘real’ home.  He’ll always have a home here, but it’ll only be for short periods, unless we can get him here for college. (doubtful) Generally, one student returns for college each year. It’s the same with the US students; at least one or two annually go abroad for their education.  We love hearing about University in Czech Republic, Argentina, Nicaragua, Japan, etc.

I tell the students, counselors, host parents, and real parents You’ve become ‘one of us’ if you had a successful year.You will have culture shock when you return home.  It may be worse than culture shock when you arrived.  No one expects reverse culture shock.  They assume it will a smooth return to their ‘real’ lives.  The students look like us, dress like us, even have their hair cut like us.  They even think like us- and in English!  

The students are never fully French, Thai, Indian, or Peruvian again.  They are citizens of the world.  They go home loving their new country, and appreciating their home country.  People won’t understand why the students are sad to be home. They won’t understand they’ve left a piece of their hearts here. People don’t understand why they mourn the loss of people they’ve known only 9-12  months, the Americans not  REAL friends and family. Frequently it’s worse because they may never see these people again. 
Tips-  Photos-Condense your favorite photos into a small album  or on your Ipod of 50-60 pictures. Most people won’t look at more without being bored. Also good to keep the photos nearby for you to look at often.
Language problems-speak English without realizing it. Forget words in your native language. You will be translating from your language to English and back. It takes time, but language will come back.
Sleep problems-can’t sleep, dream in English for a while still.
Missed Culture-you were gone a whole year and things changed – dances, fashions, slang.
Parents, siblings, friends, pets reactions- Each year, some kids make plans with their friends to go away for a few days or week the day after their return. You owe it to your parents to stay with them your first week. Don’t be selfish. You’ve matured. Have patience with your parents. They think you’re the same kid who left last fall. You’re not the same, you’re still you, but it’s a different you.  Your brothers and sisters have grown and matured this last year.Their roles in the family may have changed. You may lose some friends. Look for older kids. People will listen to your entire year for about 5 minutes before they lose interest, and want to tell you about their year. 

Don’t make major decisions for the first few months. Give yourself time.  No longer a citizen of your native country, you’re now a citizen of the world. You see the world differently. You’ll always want to travel. Your thoughts about your country might be different than when you left it.  Pets or small children may be angry with you for abandoning them. People from your country might not believe you are one of them – You act like an American.


Leave a Comment so far
Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: