Traveling to me is the best thing in this world, but with all the thrill and knowledge that it offers, there are also challenges. One of the biggest challenges is adapting to life after traveling, commonly known as reverse culture shock.
I know reverse culture shock may seem silly to some people, because one might ask: “How could someone be sad after traveling or living abroad in cool places for a long period of time?” However, I am here to inform you that it is a real emotional issue. For those currently struggling or about to struggle with it, I have learned some things about how to manage it.
I first experienced reverse culture shock after my three month sailing trip with Seamester. I believe any trip over six weeks is likely challenging for the return home. On a long trip, you are stepping out of your comfort zone and into a new exciting world of unfamiliarity. Overtime while traveling, you get used to the unfamiliarity of everything around you, and gradually the unfamiliar becomes the familiar.
But before you know it, it is time to return, and after three months, I was looking forward to being home and seeing family and friends. I was unaware of reverse culture shock however, and returning home was a surprising rollercoaster to say the least. I had been living in this entirely different way, and I had adapted and changed to a new adventurous lifestyle. My perspective and personality flourished on the trip and I wanted to talk about it, but I felt like I had no one to talk to. No one understood. Then also, a lot had changed while I was away. Relationships with some people weren’t as strong as they used to be. Home was the same place, but it felt different. Unexpectedly, there were a lot of frustrations returning back home, and I couldn’t understand why at the time. Eventually, I learned that reverse culture shock was a real thing, and it took me several weeks to work through it.
For people struggling with it currently or are worried about it as they prepare to return home, I have five suggestions:
1. Connect with people you were on the trip with. They, more than anyone, know how you feel, because they experienced the same thing you did.
2. Remember to focus on the positive. I sometimes struggle with this, but it is important to try. Life is too short to worry about the negatives 24/7. If you are lucky, you have a roof over your head, food and water, and hopefully some supportive family and friends. Plus, you just experienced an incredible journey, honor that privately if others can’t understand.
3. Relax. After all you have experienced and learned, it’s best not to worry and stress yourself too much with being home. What seems like disappointments are merely adjustments to a new life (but in a familiar place)!
4. Seek advice. Talking to most trusted friends and family makes a world of difference. They can give you validation and comfort, which is what you need.
5. Stay busy. Do activities that are productive and entertaining. Look for a job, start or get back into a sport, go for a walk, even start planning your next trip. Do whatever speaks to you. It is healthy to stay busy for the most part, and it helps keep your mind off the negatives. For more about reverse culture shock, visit this link:
During my flight from Antigua to Miami