Monday, June 13, 2016

Reverse Culture Shock: It's real & it sucks

Bonjour Tout le Monde, 

So you might be thinking, "oh no, not another one of those posts about reverse culture shock!" Why yes it surely is. Reverse culture shock is real and it is the absolute worse. For those of you who don't know what that is, it is simply the feeling of shock one experiences when returning back home after spending some time abroad. One might find it hard to re-adjust/reacclimatize or they might feel bursts of sadness/depression depending on the severity of their reverse culture shock. So, yes, reverse culture shock is real and it is important to address. Personally, I think I am quite lucky because it hasn't hit me as hard as it could have. But then again, this is because I know that I will be returning abroad in less than a year. Despite knowing that I will come back, there are days when I just wish I were back in Brussels and sitting on the metro. I wish I were walking down Avenue Charles Schiller and heading to Port de Namur to buy my African food items. There are days when I wish I were with my friends walking around the park in Vilvoorde. I miss walking around and hearing French all around me. I miss doing the bisous. But then again, there are other days when I am happy to be home. So, yes, being back home can be a bit difficult,  but there are ways to alleviate some feelings and finally re-adjust back into your previous community and lifestyle. Therefore, I have written a blog post with a  few tips on ways to deal with reverse culture shock. I really hope some of this help.

1. Move On: Yes, I said move on. Before you start to think how mean of a person I am, give me a chance to elaborate. Yes, being back home sort of sucks but also feels great at the same time. It is great to be back to familiar faces and to spend time with friends and family that you haven't seen for about 5 months or even a year. Despite that feeling, you still can't shake the fact that you are missing your study abroad memories and friends. That's great! Remember the great times and experiences that you gained, but move on. If you know that you won't be returning, embrace those memories and make new ones. Experiences such as these are just the beginning and there are certainly many more opportunities along the way to be experienced. Live in the present and enjoy every moment that you have and be ready to rock the next opportunity.

2. Keep in touch: If you made some amazing friends from your study abroad experience, keep in touch with them. Who knows, you could possibly fly back over and spend some time with them or they could possibly fly over and spend some time with you. It is very helpful to build and strengthen those relationships if you can. Plus, it's always nice to have friends all over the world. They teach you new things every day. I constantly try and talk with my friends on WhatsApp and Facebook. I watch their snaps on snapchat to see how they are doing and so much more. It's nice to see their faces and talk to them every once in a while.

3. PICTURES: So this might be helpful and it might not. Pictures. Look at all of your pictures. It's always great to sift through those pictures and remember the great times you had. On the other hand, they could make you sad, but that's when you go back to the first tip!I look through my pictures all of the time and I remember all of the great times that I had and that instantly puts a smile on my face.

4. Grow and Cultivate: Use your experience to grow and cultivate yourself. Studying abroad for most students is a time of self-growth and understanding. Maybe after spending time abroad, you found a new hobby that you loved. You learned a new language, you learned a new skill, etc. Use those experiences and skills gained to grow and cultivate yourself. Who knows, you may find yourself back on the other side of the pond or of the equator.

5. Lastly, EMBRACE IT: Yes, embrace it. It is perfectly fine and normal to feel reverse culture shock. After spending a semester or year abroad, I believe that it would be quite astonishing to come back home and feel completely normal. Therefore, embrace that feeling.  Sometimes talking to family and friends may be a bit hard because they just don't truly understand how you feel. That's also okay. make sure that you are talking to others who also studied abroad and perhaps are feeling the same way. They may be able to give you tips on how to deal with it. Also, perhaps you can become a study abroad ambassador and tell other students about your experience perhaps get a few students interested in studying abroad. It is truly a great experience to spend some time somewhere else and learning the customs and cultures of that specific country. It is of great importance to be culturally sensitive and aware! It's even nice to travel and learn those cultures firsthand. YAY CULTURE!

With that being said, I had an amazing time in Brussels, Belgium and I look forward to seeing my friends and family once more. It truly has become my home away from home, and despite how happy I am to be back with my friends and family, I look forward to being back in the streets of Brussels. I also look forward to my new adventures and the opportunity to learn the cultures and custom of my next home. I hope these tips helped you out in some way!



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