Everyone knows about the shock which occurs when you leave your home country and travel to a foreign country, far different from the one you’ve always known and loved. However, not as many people mention the opposite shock of returning from abroad!
After spending three and a half months in Italy, it became my new home. And returning in December to the States provided me with a taste of reverse culture shock. Although I was at my real home, the place I had lived for 19 years, everything felt different and took some getting adjusted to.
For instance, I was so used to walking around (up to 3 miles a day) the city for food, attractions, and festivities. So, when I arrived home, it became strange that I couldn’t just go outside and walk down the street to grab some food, see a 1,000 year old church, or entertain myself with an art exhibition.
Among many other things, I also was confused and annoyed that I couldn’t just catch a train to the nearest city for the weekend or get to the Alps in 2 hours for what would be the equivalent of 15 dollars. Where was the ADVENTURE? If I wanted to get from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia… it was either an expensive flight, pretty expensive car ride, or an uncomfortably long bus ride. Though it was do-able, it just wasn’t as simple, inexpensive, or accessible as I had become used to! And I missed the adventure which came along with many of my weekly weekend trips abroad to different sights.
Eventually, after a week of moping around and wishing I could still be living the adventurous abroad life which I became accustomed to, I decided to try and recreate that amazing experience in my backyard… well, as close as I could.
How’d I do that? And how am I still trying to do that?
If you’re used to walking around a lot, like in many European cities… start going on walks! Although you’ll probably not see 600 year old architecture or art along the way, it’ll provide a little bit of a fill for what you became used to (which is healthier, too!). And hey, there can be a charm to the trees, dogs, and houses of, in my case, the suburban life.
Go on local adventures. Explore parts of a city near you which you’ve never explored before. Find new restaurants to try, new parks to visit, concerts to go to, and museums to check out! It took me a while to realize it, but my own hometown had a lot more to do and see than I ever took the time to acknowledge. Then, when you get back to college, take weekend trips to cool places around your area which you never thought to see!
If you’re really itching to be back abroad (like myself!), then start planning your next adventure abroad! It’s never too early to start saving money for a trip to Machu Picchu, the Eiffel Tower, the Himalayas, or the Golden Gate Bridge. Peru anyone??
Overall, depending on your experience, it can be a tough transition to come back home. But, there are many ways to keep the thrill alive and find the fun around you! The area around your home probably has a lot more to offer than you once imagined. Don’t limit yourself… Feel free to comment and offer more ideas and insights on how to adjust when returning from abroad below!