Reverse culture shock: Its real and God help you!


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May 8th 2013
Published: May 8th 2013
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So I've just finished reading two pretty incredible articles on a subject which is quite close to my heart.

Reverse culture shock.

I've been around and been to some pretty incredible places, Brazil, Indonesia, Singapore, Zambia and Kenya. That's just to name the real exotic ones and the ones which are probably closest to my heart. Coming back from these truly amazing experiences changed me and every time people around me would remark on it.

Africa taught me to be more respectful of what I had, Brazil gave me a more heightened awareness of things around me (I still religious check my shoes before I put them on - dam spiders) and my current trip to Asia is teaching me new things all the time, which i won't truly appreciate until I leave.

However, the biggest change when you return home is always quite simply being back home. Every time I come home, I return with stories which I naturally want to share with all my friends and family. However, I've always found that is an air of reluctance to even want to hear about it. People don't care what you've done and after a while, will even get annoyed that you mention it,

I know within my family, there is no interest to travel and see new places, they don't understand why I do it and so really don't understand the need for me to explain it to them. I can remember coming home from Eastern Europe expecting for people to want to hear about my adventures, but I got met simply by the happiness of having me home. They almost wanted to forget that I was away.

In some quarters, some of my friends in particular, there has been serious jealously of my travels. In more than one occasion, when I've been asked about my summer holidays, I've simply waved the subject off, in an attempt to not have to mention where I've been, yet I've been met by disgruntlement, because they have already seen where I've been and they see it as me being flipant (dam you facebook). Yet all I want to do is save them the bore and resentment they have shown in the past for my stories. You can't win.

This is of course all added to the fact, that if, like me, travel and exploration is your passion, being home is simply a bore. Walking down the street in Indonesia, dodging bikes and cars, while smelling the fantastic food from the Warungs is a thousand miles from the safety of British streets. Its just not as eventful. Even public transport, which in Indonesia with it's angkots, bajais and ojeks is an experience in itself makes typical bus travel even more uneventful and tiresome than before you left.

Here's the thing, if you like to travel and you've spent a long time in other countries and had the trials, heartaches and successes which accompany it, you will always have that small fit of pain and boredom when you return home. You'll begin to itch to travel again and that itch will get bigger and come quicker the more you travel.

The love and lure of travel after my return from Eastern Europe caused me to quit a hard fought for MSc and completely redefine my lifes goals, because I simply could not fit back into day to day normal life back home. I was miserable at being stuck in such a typical and boring manner and I needed to break out. Now I work in a typical day job as a teacher, but with it I have the every day trials of getting to work without being killed while trying to communicate more successfully with the locals and discover more about this strange and exotic country.

I don't believe you can ever cure reverse culture shock, once you've got the taste for travel and the yearning for new shores, you will never lose it, going home will only bring it back and the more often it happens the worse it will become. You have two choices, keep traveling or attempt to settle somewhere that is able to give you what you need.

That being said, I believe you can help yourself reduce the pain. A particular way I found was to immerse myself into a Couch Surfing, a travelers community, where I could meet people who had the same condition and also would want to hear about my stories and I could hear about theirs and get new ideas. It helps, but deeply you always know you'll only be happy with your rucksack on and a new horizon in front of you.

For me, having read those two articles, it was just a relief to know that it wasn't just me who suffered from this. That there is a condition, it has a name and although there is nothing you can do, there are people out there who are also going through it and its not just something you're going through alone.

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