4. Explain your issues to others.
As the crisis stage of reverse culture shock set in, I reacted by withdrawing from people. Many of them simply didn’t understand what I was going through and I didn’t know how to explain my confusion.
It’s important to seek help if you get overwhelmed by the reentry process and are unable to cope with all the changes happening in your world. Aid your adjustment by telling your close friends and family that you’re unable to cope.
If your mother’s callaloo gives you gas or you feel anxious about finding a good barber, confide in someone who you think will help. Isolating yourself leaves you alone in your thoughts without any insight from people who want you to be happy. Thus, speak up and ask for help to find your footing.
5. Connect to people with similar experiences.
Another way to deal with reverse culture shock is to talk to people who have lived through or are still navigating the process. Honestly, if your friends and family have never lived abroad, they will not be fully equipped to help you cope with reentry.
Scan social media, such as Facebook, to find support groups comprised of people with similar issues. Moreover, if you recently returned from studying abroad, check your school’s website for online resources, hotlines and outreach programmes.
Simply hearing another person say, “I understand,” relieves an incredible amount of stress. In that moment, you learn that you are not alone and you are not overreacting.
6. Keep in touch with friends abroad.
When I moved to New York City, I coped with the shock by creating an oasis of Trinidadian culture in my apartment. I listened to soca and calypso music, and cooked only native dishes. Most importantly, I kept in regular contact with home.
That communication with my friends and family kept me grounded. Surprisingly, the reverse has also been beneficial following my repatriation.
I chat with my American friends daily, not only to hear a familiar voice but also because the life I built abroad is still a part of who I am. Additionally, our shared understandings let me know there are people in the world who get me.
Keep your lines of communication with your international contacts open. Just as your local contacts helped you when you moved abroad, your foreign loved ones can help you transition home.
7. Express compassion to the locals.
We all know that awkward feeling of chatting with someone we haven’t seen in years and wondering why we were ever friends with them. That’s exactly how I feel while listening to radio talk shows or public conversations in Trinidad.
Returning to Trinidad meant getting accustomed to people who don’t always see the bigger picture. Instead of getting frustrated with people’s views on human rights for the LGBTQ community or domestic violence, for example, I’ve learned to be compassionate.
Remember, while living abroad, particularly in developed nations, you were exposed to different ways of seeing the world. Your home country may not be there yet. Thus, be compassionate toward the locals and understand they have not lived in a world as big as the one you’ve seen.