Reverse Culture Shock

“No one really cares about your ‘life-changing’ experiences abroad.”

Wow!  Can it be true?  Will no one want to know about the last 2 years of my life??

I recently read an article about expats returning to the US and a few lines caught my attention, so I thought I’d share:

Reverse culture shock

The United States you remember has been replaced by its cinematic evil twin.

It’s really just the same old country with a mustache, but that’ll be enough to cause what is widely regarded among the expat community as reverse culture shock: the unexpected difficulty of adjusting to life back home.

According to Mobility magazine, “For many, it takes a full 12-month-cycle of holidays and work-related events before [returning expats] feel fully re-established back home.” Here’s what to expect …

Regardless of what your routine was while abroad, every day brought discovery. Now, discovery means waiting with anticipation for what the new Hess holiday toy truck will look like.

Tip: Dive back into the culture. There has been a panoply of acclaimed movies, television shows, music and books since you left.

Missing your second home
The homeland has always been there waiting for you, so coming back to your country of origin actually makes you more homesick for the foreign land.

Tip: As a foreigner, you were more willing to adapt. Now that you’re “home,” you may feel out of place, only without the willingness to conform. Identify what you miss about home before you return then focus on those things once you do.

Nobody cares where you’ve been
People outside the United States often like to hear what life is like there. Americans, owing to either a sense of superiority or disinterest, aren’t all that curious about what’s going on in Malalikibootoostan. (Which is a close approximation to how they might pronounce the name of your most recent home. Ha ha, your high school friends are funny!)

Tip: Keep your remembrances brief unless someone takes an active interest in your experience. Any phrase containing “when I was in…” is a no go zone. No one likes a Carmen Sandiego.

Job dissatisfaction

Your new job may not allow you to capitalize on the multi-cultural skills you cultivated during your time abroad (“Just input the data from this form into that one and start the next pile as soon as you’re done, Ferguson!”) and/or you may not enjoy as senior a position upon your return.

Tip: Don’t let this engender a sense of lost career momentum. Nobody in America likes their job, so this will give you something to bond over!

Where have all my holidays gone? 

Working in the United States brings with it a remarkable lack of public holidays and vacation leave. No more easy long weekends in Phuket or the coast of Spain on generous expat leave.

Tip: Ask not what your company can do for you, ask what you can do for your company. Get cracking.

No one understands you
Your difficulty reintegrating into American society is as foreign a concept to others there as the place you just left.

Tip: Get over it.

Reading this article does make me wonder how others will react to my return and how I’ll react to not living in Hong Kong anymore.  When I read the part about missing your 2nd home, I even got a tear in my eye realizing how sad the day I finally leave here will be.  Even though I know I’m ready to be “home,” I am so very thankful for the amazing experiences I’ve had here and I’m scared that I’ll never again be able to rival this time and I’m also worried that all I’ve done here won’t be appreciated by others when I go home.  3 months to go before I find out what it’ll really be like!

Taken from this article:

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