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Handling Reverse Culture Shock

Reverse culture shock is a common reaction after returning home from time abroad. It can range from feeling that no one understands how you've changed to feeling panicked that you will lose part of your identity if you don't have an outlet to pursue new interests that were sparked abroad. As you go through this transition period, the following tips may be helpful:

  • Recognize possible symptoms of reverse culture shock, such as:
    • Feelings of restlessness, boredom, depression, uncertainty, or confusion
    • Isolating from friends or family, or wanting to be alone
    • Missing the people, places, attitudes or lifestyle of your host country 
    • Changing your goals or shifting priorities
    • Feelings of negativity or intolerance towards the U.S., including American behavior, attitudes, customs and common social practice
  • Draw on the same coping skills and strategies that were successful in helping you adjust to your host culture, including:
    • Getting involved
    • Identifying a support group of other students, such as those who studied abroad in the same location as you or students who studied abroad elsewhere
    • Suspending judgment, identifying biases, and considering different perspectives until you understand a situation
    • Keeping a journal
    • Keeping a sense of humor
  • Acknowledge and accept that your values and beliefs may have changed. Intentionally seek out ways to incorporate new and meaningful values and beliefs in your life. 
  • Understand that your friendships and relationships might have changed as a result of your new experiences. Explore new places and people with whom you can share your international experiences.
  • Practice self-care. Prioritize activities that help you reduce stress and feel grounded. Reach out to the Center for Student Support and Care to problem solve and connect to resources. 

Additional resources to help with reverse culture shock can be found on the Travel & Safety Returning to Campus page.