Wry Exchange

Reverse Culture Shock, Part 4
05-22-08, 6:51 pm
Filed under: Culture, Inbounds Inbounds | Tags:

   Reverse Culture Shock, Part 4-How to help yourself get through it

As always, keep busy.  I know it’s a cliché, but getting your mind off yourself helps.  First, a few minutes, then a few hours will give you strength for the tough times.

You’ll feel overwhelmed when you return home.  Everyone has to see you NOW.  Your head will be spinning.  That’s normal.  Remember back when you first arrived in FESlandia.  How hard was it to translate in your head before you answered in FESish?  Do you remember the headaches?  The lost words? 

Practical advice

  • Photos Condense your favorite photos into a small album of 50-60 pictures. Most people won’t look at more without being bored. It’s good to keep the small album nearby for you to look at often, or just to know it’s there with you.  Put your favorite photos on your Ipod.
  • Language problems-You’ll 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.  You may not believe it when people tell you “That wasn’t English, it was FESish.” 
  • Sleep problems-can’t sleep, dream in English for a while still.  Try to keep to a regular schedule for your home country.  Don’t get online to chat with old friends in their timezone if possible.  You are home, and have to adjust.  Try to limit your middle of the night sessions to one night a week.
  • Missed Culture-you were gone a whole year and things changed – dances, fashions, slang
    Parents, siblings, friends, pets. 
  • Vacation  Each year, FES 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.
  • Patience 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.  Give your parents time to adjust.  They’ll be really shocked if they didn’t visit you during the year.  Your brothers and sisters have grown and matured this last year. Their roles in the family may have changed.   Pets and small children may ‘hate’ you for abandoning them.  Be patient.
  • Friends  You may lose some friends. Look for older students.  You are most likely more mature than your peers.  People will listen to your entire year for about 5 minutes before they lose interest, and want to tell you about their year.   Find other former FES for support.  You’ll need someone to talk with, keep in touch with your FES classmates, but also look for advice from older ex-exchange students.  No one else will truly understand except the people who experienced youth exchange.
    Please read the rest of my culture shock series, part 1, part 2, and part 3.

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