Wry Exchange

Reverse Culture Shock, Part 1
05-21-08, 12:26 am
Filed under: Culture, Exchange Students | Tags:

 Reverse Culture Shock, Part 1 by Wry
Reverse culture shock is what happens when FESs return home.  Many times, it’s a surprise to the students that re-entry isn’t seamless.  It’s very very important that students, families, and friends realize reverse culture shock is real and serious.
1st few days-You’re happy, busy, it’s great to be home, you’re with friends and family.
2-3 weeks-You miss FESlandia, depressed, have problems sleeping, thinking. You feel alone. “No one understands me” Find other former exchange students to talk with. KEEP BUSY. May be depressed, problems sleeping, thinking. Feel alone like “No one understands me.” Find other former exchange students to talk with.  KEEP BUSY.
1 month-withdraw from friends and family in FESlandia.  Won’t return emails, chat, texts, phone calls because it hurts too much.  You’ll re-connect. Self preservation, may be unconscious.
3 months-you’ll think you’re fine
6 months-you ARE fine

Reverse Culture Shock, Part 1-by the Experts

  1. Disengagement
  2. Initial euphoria
  3. Irritability and hostility
  4. Readjustment and adaptation

Stage 1 begins before you leave FESlandia. You begin thinking about re-entry and making your preparations for your return home. You also begin to realize that it’s time to say good-bye to your friends in Feslandia and to the place you’ve come to call home. The hustle and bustle of finals, good-bye parties, and packing can intensify your feelings of sadness and frustration. You already miss the friends you’ve made, and you are reluctant to leave. Or, you may make your last few days fly by so fast that you don’t have time to reflect on your emotions and experiences.

Stage 2 usually begins shortly before departure, and it is characterized by feelings of excitement and anticipation – even euphoria – about returning home.  This is very similar to the initial feelings of fascination and excitement you may have when you first entered FESlandia. You may be very happy to see your family and friends again, and they are also happy to see you. The length of this stage varies, and often ends with the realization that most people are not as interested in your experiences in FESlandia as you had hoped. They will politely listen to your stories for a while, but you may find that soon they are ready to move on to the next topic of conversation.

This is often one of the transitions to Stage 3. You may experience feelings of frustration, anger, alienation, loneliness, disorientation, and helplessness and not understand exactly why. You might quickly become irritated or critical of others and of U.S. culture. Depression, feeling like a stranger at home, and the longing to go back abroad are also not uncommon reactions. You may also feel less independent than you were in FESlandia.

Most people are then able to move onto Stage 4, which is a gradual readjustment to life at home. Things will start to seem a little more normal again, and you will probably fall back into some old routines, but things won’t be exactly the same as how you left them. You have most likely developed new attitudes, beliefs, habits, as well as personal and professional goals, and you will see things differently now. The important thing is to try to incorporate the positive aspects of your international experience in FESlandia with the positive aspects of your life at home in your home country.

Edited to change the beginning since this is a multi-part post.   Read Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.


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