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Quotes from students in reverse culture shock

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Quotes from students in reverse culture shock

Postby Winston » August 5th, 2008, 4:56 pm

Quotes from college students in reverse culture shock after returning from abroad

Here are some revealing quotes from college students returning abroad, who are in a state of reverse culture shock. They are compiled in a handbook to help their parents deal with this situation, which you can view at the link below. ... ndbook.pdf

“The hardest part of re-entry was people seemingly not caring how my life had been transformed.â€￾

“I definitely felt I had become part Ecuadorian, and had no way to express that new part of myself.â€￾

“It’s so tough to return to your own ‘reality’ (or what it was before leaving) and realize that you don’t necessarily agree with your life or your culture or the values underlying itâ€￾.

“I stayed inside for three days before going out.â€￾

“For three weeks after I got home I ended up just trying to recuperate, rarely going out.â€￾

“I was a good wreck for a couple of months.â€￾

“In total, return culture shock lasted about a year.â€￾

“People in the US are far too tense, selfish and in a hurry.â€￾

“It was difficult to adjust to the pace of life back home -- the dependence upon time and scheduling.â€￾

“Then Christmas hit. The extravagance was overwhelming and depressing to me – the waste, the excess.â€￾

“I found myself many times completely unable to cope with the fact that I live in a society that glorifies material wealth and in a country that dominates the world economy.â€￾

“The hardest part for me was reconciling how much I had experienced and therefore changed with people and things that had remained the same at home.â€￾

“I felt like I was unable to really communicate to people what my semester abroad meant. Few people want to take the time to hear about what really touched your heart and changed your perspective.â€￾

“My biggest desire was just to be around people who understand, who would listen to me, validate my feelings and not expect me to ‘get over’ my depression or confusion or anger or frustration too quickly.â€￾

“School was really hard to get back into. I just didn’t want to be there… didn’t want to be reading about other people doing things, I wanted to be doing them.â€￾

“When I went back to school I was hit with the reality that the lives of my friends had changed and I was no longer a part of the close knit circle I had had before.â€￾

“It is crazy to think it was two years ago and is still so important and the source of most of my best friendships.â€￾

“My views were so changed, my eyes awakened, and I could not continue as I had before leaving.â€￾

“I was listening to my two closest friends talk during my first week back, and I was shocked and appalled. I assumed that they had grown and matured as much as I had. Boy, was I wrong.â€￾

“One hard thing for me was finding myself among peers who don’t share the same global consciousness that I had acquired while I was away. I wanted to smack a lot of people and tell them to wake up and look around them, even though I could easily have been one of them four months before.â€￾

“The toughest part for me was sinking back into the lifestyle – the bubble – and not feeling that I was abandoning something.â€￾

“I needed to find connections to my former host country in my home community, even just a restaurant. This would have helped me relax, given me a taste of the culture that had become so familiar to me.â€￾

One parent of a student who returned from France related: ... ndbook.pdf

“Driving back home from the airport, I glanced over at my daughter. I was so happy to see her. Somehow she seemed a little disoriented, though I knew she must be excited to be back, after spending four months in France on an SIT program. “Exhaustion and jet lag,â€￾ I thought to myself.

After a few days, the situation at home was becoming difficult. She wanted wine with every meal. She requested cloth napkins. She wanted to listen only to French music and look through her photographs. She kept describing the wonderful places she had been and the food they had eaten. She complained about the quality of our cheese. She didn’t want to call her old friends. She didn’t really seem to be happy to be home. Frankly, I was a little concerned and frustrated, as well. How long was it going to take her to readjust to normal life?

Time went by. After three weeks, I was ready to have a fit. She still continually criticized everything. She moped around the house. She didn’t seem to want to get out and find a job for the summer. I could feel myself running out of patience. I was tired of hearing about her life abroad, and I wanted her to be glad to be home! Even though I knew it was normal to have some difficulties adjusting to being back, it seemed to me that this had been going on long enough. It was time for her to get over it. I wanted my sunny, positive, energetic daughter back again.â€￾

And here are some excerpts from the author of the handbook: ... ndbook.pdf

“While students are struggling with this process, it is not uncommon for some of them to try desperately to find a way to go back overseas.

There are students who feel out of place from the moment they walk through the door. For them, the readjustment to home actually feels harder than the original culture shock they felt when they left to go abroad. They may take weeks to integrate the new person they have become into the reality they left behind. Usually, the more successful the student was in integrating into the host culture, the more difficult he or she will find the challenge of slipping back into the American way of life. Conversely, students who were less affected by the time they spent abroad will typically have an easier time returning home.

Pace of Life
Although many of us know that other cultures have a far more flexible attitude towards time, it comes as a shock when we realize how well our children have adapted to “Jamaican timeâ€￾ or “Spanish timeâ€￾ or “Indian time.â€￾ This particular cultural idiosyncrasy is often treated lightly, even jokingly. However, it actually is indicative of a deeper issue. Much of the rest of the world is amazed at how Americans allow their lives to be ruled by the clock, ignoring mitigating factors and circumstances beyond one’s control. Although students can re-learn to check the watch, it might be hard for them to give time the same importance it once had. They often continue to feel that people and situations should take priority over schedules and deadlines.

Most SIT students choose to study in countries that are not as wealthy as the United States. They often are amazed at the quality of life of people abroad who lack what the US culture has taught them to consider as basic possessions. They are taken by surprise at the closeness of the families, the warmth and friendliness, the willingness to share. Coming home, it is not unusual for students to feel vaguely guilty for all they and their real families own.

World View
Many students also feel their world view has expanded immeasurably. They have a deeper awareness of global issues and a broader perspective regarding globalization, IMF policies, ecological challenges, health concerns, international income disparity, and so on. They feel the richness, the weight, and the responsibility of first-hand experience. They are understandably frustrated with the seemingly superficial priorities and the general lack of international awareness in the lives of their friends and family. Some returning students realize that they themselves were as unaware as their friends before they left to study overseas. Most, however, conveniently forget this fact. If they are not careful, their attitude of moral superiority alienates the very individuals they are trying to reach. The challenge here is for them to not forget what they have learned, and at the same time, not allow their indignation and self-righteousness to get in the way of productive dialogue with others.

Self Image
One of the final issues faced by returning students is confronting their self image. Many students go to countries where they look different from most of the local population. Both men and women often find themselves receiving far more attention from the opposite sex than they were accustomed to, simply because of their American appearance. Although this constant fishbowl effect is exhausting, it is also flattering.â€￾
Last edited by Winston on July 12th, 2014, 3:10 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Winston » August 5th, 2008, 8:04 pm

Here is an interesting response from my cultural consultant Ladislav:

"This is just one angle- Americans who went abroad and became bi-cultural vs mono cultural. Similar experiences are given by foreign students who study in America and cannot fit in back home. They are now independent, strong, confident, think for themselves and feel stifled by traditions and lack of opportunities. Women especially cannot fit in. They are now second class citizens and are oppressed. So, one person's meat is another person's poison.

One thing I will tell you, the Philippines with all its monumental faults is the hardest place to live without. Especially for a guy.

And why leave anywhere. We should run our quilted world in many places and enjoy it to the fullest. We should also associate with other international people and not be lonely."
Last edited by Winston on July 12th, 2014, 3:17 am, edited 1 time in total.
Check out the latest posts in our blog The Happier Abroaders.

Don't forget my HA Grand Ebook and Dating Sites!

"It takes far less effort to find and move to the society that has what you want than it does to try to reconstruct an existing society to match your standards." - Harry Browne, How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World
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Postby Winston » August 7th, 2008, 8:03 am

Here is something interesting that someone told me about India and Europe:


I have heard of folks who came back from India and had to live in England for 8 months before they could re-integrate into the USA. I also heard of another guy I know who came back from India and had to live in a cabin in the mountains of Colorado for a year or so before re-integrating into the US society again. India is a pretty dramatic cultural change, however even being in Europe has an effect on a person.

I, personally, after spending only 2 weeks in Europe, came back pretty transformed and ended up quitting my job at the time and taking up organic farming for a few years. There were a few more variables to my stay in Europe, in that I attended a conference on world peace, which had a transformational effect on me. I was speaking with people from different cultures all over the globe at this conference for two weeks. However, I agree that once you mix with other cultures for a period of time, even a brief time, it does change how you look at things, particularly in the USA."

Commenting on the above, an Indian friend told me:

"Oh Yes for sure!!!
I knew a woman who was from England but loves to spend most of her time in India.
She goes back and says how miserable she's feeling there. People are cold, climate is cold
and wet and everything is so bloody expensive!!
She lived and traveled in India a lot. And the place she lived was a beautiful famous town
surrounded by mountains and lake and palaces. People loved her and were always very happy to see her.
She kinda embedded as a foreigner in that environment and people would help her out in anything.

So I guess that's an example that I know. Its not to back to the U.S., but England.
umm back to the U.S. example is surely the cultural shock and the absolute change in time cycle.
The customer service was surprisingly quite pleasant in India even than the U.S.
One may order a list of things from the store and the guy will deliver it free!
Or there are hawkers who would come right in front of your house and sell you fresh fruits and
vegetables or do other things. In the U.S., one has to drive upto a big mall and go through the
selection of a thousand things before buying something.

just my 2 cents. "
Last edited by Winston on July 12th, 2014, 3:22 am, edited 1 time in total.
Check out the latest posts in our blog The Happier Abroaders.

Don't forget my HA Grand Ebook and Dating Sites!

"It takes far less effort to find and move to the society that has what you want than it does to try to reconstruct an existing society to match your standards." - Harry Browne, How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World
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Postby Repatriate » August 27th, 2008, 3:04 pm

I have lived abroad from the U.S. for a number of years now. I'm on my 3rd consecutive year and I don't really miss "home" that much. I miss my parents and my dog. :lol: I also sometimes miss my halcyon days in America as a firefighter. It was fun putting those blazes out as a smoke jumper.
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Good stuff

Postby JamaicaninChina » July 13th, 2014, 8:37 pm

Thanks for posting this!
I'm not here to convince, justify, defend or apologize for my beliefs, choices or lifestyle. I’m not here for validation, vindication, approval or to respond to personal attacks. I’m here to share a philosophy & formula that worked for me! And in a world of 6 billion, if ONE person can do a thing, then it MUST be possible for at least ONE other person to do the same! Freedom is achievable!
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