For me, culture shock in my home country, Australia, happened like this:
- I was surprised (and somewhat confused) to be able to chat extensively with the checkout operators at the supermarket, after living in Germany where that rarely happens
- I was somewhat saddened (though I understand it better now) that many of my friends back home didn’t want to hear about my travels, or hadn’t even remembered which countries I’d been living in all this time
- I was hungry for all the amazing foods I’d eaten while living abroad … and while Perth is pretty multicultural and you can find lots of great foods from many cuisines here, it somehow wasn’t the same
- Some of my friends were confused that I seemed like a completely different person after five and a half years away. And I don’t blame them, because I was!
So those are just some of the symptoms of reverse culture shock. It’s an odd experience, but a common one, as this episode of the podcast proves!
Show notes: Episode 81 of The Thoughtful Travel Podcast
Culture Shock in Your Home Country
Reverse culture shock – the kind of culture shock you get when you return to your home country – is worse than just regular culture shock, I think. If you head to a country with a significantly different culture from your own, then you’re expecting to be shocked. But if you’ve been travelling or living abroad for a while and you return home, you don’t expect to be the victim of culture shock – or in this case, reverse culture shock.
In Episode 81 of The Thoughtful Travel Podcast, I speak with three guests who’ve all had varying experiences with culture shock when they return to their home country. Having been through it myself, quite strongly, when I returned to live in Australia after five and a half years away in Asia and Europe, I always find it so reassuring to hear that others have had similar experiences – though I wish I’d known more back when I was first experiencing reverse culture shock so I could have had some resources to help me get past it more quickly.
In this episode I start by speaking with Kati Craythorn. Born and raised in Germany, she now calls Queensland, Australia home, and experiences some interesting symptoms of reverse culture shock when she goes to visit family and friends in Germany these days. She also had her own experience of culture shock when returning to Australia after a stay in South Africa.
Next, I chat with Abby Lewtas who is also no stranger to reverse culture shock. Abby spent years travelling for various pursuits including a stint training for the Olympic bobsled team – obviously something that needs a colder climate than Australia can provide – and then struggled with the expectations of returning home to set up a life back in Australia. She’s now helping other people who go through the same shock and has a lot of great suggestions on how to deal with it.
Finally, I had a great talk with James Thomas who lives an interesting ex-pat life in Taiwan, after studying in China. When he returns to the United States to visit family, he finds even many of the conversations are tricky, and we chat in some depth about the feelings you experience when suffering from reverse culture shock.
- Thanks to sponsor Glamping Hub
- Kati at Queensland and Beyond
- Abby’s website – life coach for travellers returning home
- James at Four Seas, One Family
- Episode 51 on Reverse Culture Shock
- Join our Facebook group for Thoughtful Travellers