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How to Cope with Reverse Culture Shock

Jay Mantri


After studying abroad in the UK, Hannah shares her tips for readjusting to life back home. 

After spending the most magical nine months in England, my time is over. Writing this post was much harder than I expected, which is probably why I put it off for so long. It was a commitment to the fact that it was over, my exchange had well and truly finished. I could no longer be a "blogger from the field," since I'm not longer in "the field."

For some reason I didn’t believe all the warnings that the exchange office had given me about reverse culture shock. I really didn’t. I assumed I would return home and my life would go back to normal, but what was normal anymore? To me, normal was seeing my British flat mates every day, walking around my campus in Norfolk and bussing into Norwich to hang at our favourite places. Upon arriving back in Auckland, everything had changed, but everything had also not changed. Things move on without you, which was the first thing I had to accept.

After being home for about a week now, here are some of the things I felt helped with returning home after exchange:

1. Treat your hometown like your exchange city.

Just because you're back home doesn't mean that you can't explore like you did on exchange. Of course, you'll be more familiar with your home, but there are still things to discover. 

Search TripAdvisor for the top things to do in your city, pick up a travel brochure, or just go to somewhere you haven’t been before. Approach your home like you are a tourist and I guarantee you will see it in a whole new light. Not only will this help with coming to terms with being home, but you will still be able to experience that thrill that only the travel bug can give you.

2. Don’t return to life exactly how it was when you left.

One of my friends who returned from exchange said he felt like he was going backwards in life when he returned home. That feeling is very hard to escape if you return to life exactly as it was when you left.

Instead, join a new club, practice the new hobbies and interests you picked up abroad, or even change the furniture around in your bedroom. Ensuring your life is slightly different than when you left it keeps things new and fresh. Meeting new people and doing things that perhaps you didn’t do before will allow to feel you to feel like you are still moving forward.

3. Keep little things to remind you of your exchange.

Within about a week of arriving home, my exchange started to feel like it never happened. It felt like a dream. Having little things and doing activities that remind me of England helps to keep it close.

For example, I still watch the British TV shows I picked up in England, I sometimes get little treats in the British section of the supermarket, and I still use British slang—even if no one understands it. Having little things that remind me of England, helps to still keep that part of me going.

So this is it from me. Thank you to everyone who has read my blogs, I have enjoyed writing them so much; to have them as a record of my exchange is just amazing. I hope I have helped even just one person just a little bit with questions about their own exchange. Safe travels!

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Published in Study Abroad Blogs
Hannah Pym

Hannah Pym is an student in Norwich, England on exchange from the University of Auckland. Born in New Zealand, Hannah spent her teenage years in Australia. She is completing her undergraduate degree in English and History.

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