5 Ways to Help Cope with Reverse Culture Shock

Dispatches from the Road, France, Studying Abroad — By on December 24, 2010 at 6:00 am

Saying goodbye to France, my home over the past 3.5 months for my study abroad, was not easy. It’s never easy to say goodbye to your host country, especially after all the crazy adventures, amazing people, and unforgettable moments. It’s hard to accept that your new reality is about to turn into memories, and that home feels different. That’s when the post-trip depression settles in. Post-trip depression  (ie, Reverse Culture Shock) doesn’t always have to be hard-hitting, so try these tips to help cope with saying goodbye to your foreign home-away-from-home:

1. Have something to look forward to when you go home like seeing friends and family, your dog, or a concert, or just enjoying the holidays. I had plenty of things to look forward to when I left France, including family, Christmas, and an upcoming study abroad in India. Having so many things to do has helped me accept the fact that my study abroad in France is over, and that it’s okay to move on. The biggest reason I haven’t been hung up on France is that I’ve barely had enough time to miss France since I’m busy preparing for my next adventure in India.

2. Know that you can (and will) visit again. Leaving is always easier when you know you will be back. Though I have no idea when I’ll return to France, I already began putting together a list of places I want to see when I go back (someday). It’s hard to suddenly stop traveling after a long trip, so planning another trip – whether to your host country or another destination – may help satisfy the travel void in your life. Even if you have no idea when you’ll be able to travel again, it’s never too early to start planning.

3. Learn how to make some of your favorite foods from your host country. This will give you a taste of your foreign adventures while living at home. My family makes crêpes, so now I just have to buy some Nutella to recreate one of my favorite French snacks. It’s not the same as a crêpe avec Nutella from the stand down the road, but it’s a nice reminder of my time there that I can share with others.

4. Keep in touch with your foreign friends. It’s never been easier to stay in contact with your new friends – whether it’s via e-mail, Facebook, Skype, or snail mail. I plan to keep in touch with several of my new friends through Facebook, and I traded e-mail addresses with some French friends so I could keep up with my French now that I’m back in an English-speaking country. It’s also comforting to talk to someone who experienced your adventures with you and understands the post-trip depression you’re going through.

5. Share your experiences with your friends and family. As soon as I arrived home, I began the frantic process of trying to perfectly preserve every moment of my trip. It helps to keep these memories alive by sharing my adventures with friends and family. Although sometimes it makes me miss France more, it also helps me realize how much I’ve learned when I tell my stories to someone who wasn’t there with me. I’m also glad I took tons of pictures and videos, and that I kept a journal. I’m happy I remembered to take pictures of what I saw everyday, not just the big monuments, because those are the things that I remember (and will miss) the most.

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