Tuesday, April 30, 2013

How To Deal With Reverse Culture Shock?

reverse culture shock

Even if you are one of the lucky ones who can quickly adapt from one culture to another and feel as comfortable after ten days back in Taunton as during your ten years in Timbuktu, it may still be worth reading this.

The problem you face

The effect of coming back home after a long vacation from a place, which has so many contradictory elements, it is quite natural that you get thrown by the after effects. Reverse cultural shock is more than cultural shock because you may have assumed that usual comfort of your home, luxuries that you enjoy and your friends, all are waiting to hear your life-changing experiences in the remote corners of the world.

The problem starts a bit later. You arrive home, see the familiar road, much loved hygiene, and recount your fabulous experiences. All of these plus the respect you earn from your peers put you in high pedestal. But after a while this gradually seems to change. For no apparent reason you start to feel sick, restless, anxious or depressed; you start losing motivation and even your self-confidence. You feel bad about your surroundings, the stark materialism, run away from the machine life and confused about yourself. What can possibly the matter?

Medically you don’t have anything to worry. You are probably suffering from reverse cultural shock. You have a country that you fall in love; you enjoy, appreciate, the experiences you shared are the precious gifts for you. Now, you have lost a role and a clear place in the scheme of things. Apart from sadness, you may be shocked by what you find at home. You may feel like a messiah from a different world with insights and depth that nobody going to understand.

Further you are in deep dilemma; in one hand you want to reintegrate into the society that you are a part. On the other, you do not want to negotiate on the ideals you have learnt. Even in smaller aspects of life, you see a bigger picture. Is it morally justified for supermarkets to sell 52 different types of breakfast cereal? 

What are the solutions?

Don’t get panicked if you identify yourself with some of these symptoms. If you can’t relax, don’t worry either. Here are some suggestions that may help:

•    Recognize your feelings, write it down, and choose one or two friends with whom you can share your emotional problems. Try to get in touch with people who like you travel for long days. 

•    Keep in touch with overseas friends and projects. Don’t run away from the problem rather embrace it. There are always things you can do it for the country you fall in loved without really going there. Find a purpose for your work. 

•    Patience is the key. Reintegration will take its own due course of time. Let’s leave it for a while and engage yourself in regular work. You will learn the knack of accepting the good, avoiding the bad and recognizing what you can usefully do to help bring change within the limits of your gifts and energies.

•    If you are still restless and anxious, join a social group where you have a shared interest. It may be a church, evening class, a club, NGO, or anything. 

•    Take a holiday. Don’t take on too many assignments and speaking engagements until you have had a proper break, your slides have been developed and you’ve spent time with your family and friends.

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