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Reverse Culture-Shock and Other Adventures

January 2, 2011

Well, I am officially back on U.S. soil! Actually, I flew home about 6 weeks ago, but I somehow felt that writing about it on my blog would make it too real, so I haven’t been able to muster up the discipline to do so until today. Now it’s January 2nd and the new year has put me in the spirit of reflecting on the incredible memories of 2010, and starting to look forward to whatever adventures await me during the next chapter of my life. With that, I am finally going to close out my Argentina blog, but not before I finish several posts that I began while I was abroad, and never found the time to finish…

Here are some of the topics you can look forward to, before I say “chau” for good:

  • Córdoba and the 3rd(?)-Largest Oktoberfest in the World
  • Last Trip in Argentina – Bariloche, Patagonia!
  • The Weekend Ferias (Markets) of Buenos Aires
  • My Complete Buenos Aires “to do” list

And of course, plenty of pictures (maybe even a few videos)!

A Note on Reverse Culture-Shock

If you’ve read any of the numerous study abroad handbooks that your program and school have given you, then you are probably familiar with the term “Reverse Culture-Shock.” If you aren’t, here is a brief article that includes some common symptoms as well as coping strategies: Reverse Culture Shock and the Re-Entry Experience.

At this point you might be thinking some version of the following: “These people are crazy. Why on earth would I experience culture shock in my own culture?!” To tell you the truth, I too was a little skeptical about it until I experienced it myself. But I have since decided that although Reverse Culture-Shock is definitely real, whether or not you experience it (as well as what symptoms you do experience) may be determined by countless factors, including: the amount of time you spent abroad, whether or not you were immersed in a foreign language, your personality, how much you adapted to the foreign culture, etc.

As with culture shock, the best way to deal with it is to educate yourself about the fact that it exists and some methods for dealing with it, so that you don’t feel like you are alone in what you’re experiencing. I’ve included a sort of time-line of my Reverse Culture-Shock experience, as well as a few coping mechanisms I’ve come up with, below . . .

Weeks 1-2:

  • The lack of Spanish around me keeps pulling my attention; I keep staring when people speak English and automatically responding to people in Spanish
  • I eat and sleep a lot
  • I think back on studying abroad fondly, but other than the language, I don’t really miss it all that much yet
  • Coping Mechanisms: Listen to music in Spanish, speak Spanish with people as much as I can, eat, sleep, and relax

Week 3:

  • I start to get back into a normal routine, and think about Argentina less, although little things start to remind me and make me miss it from time-to-time
  • Coping Mechanism: Focus on the here and now 🙂

Weeks 4-5:

  • The “reality” of work, school, and day-to-day life kicks in, and starts to seem really boring in comparison to my previous adventures
  • Missing Argentina (and especially the friends I made there) kicks in full-force
  • Coping Mechanism: Look through pictures, chat with friends from study abroad (on Skype, texting, etc), count my blessings, focus on enjoying the things I missed while I was abroad (family, food, fast internet, etc)

Week 6:

  • I start to settle into a good rhythm at home and to really look forward to what’s next in my life
  • I reflect a lot on how studying abroad has shifted my perspective, goals, etc (this has been happening to a degree this whole time, but now I am really able to look back at the experience and forward at my future more objectively)
  • Coping Mechanisms: Journal, plan the upcoming months/year, finish up my blog and video-editing, get ready to close this beautiful chapter in my life and begin a whole new set of adventures!

Thank you so much for sharing this experience with me!

Happy and Reflective,

Home with My Family on Christmas

3 Comments leave one →
  1. January 4, 2011 12:34 am

    I know what it feels like to come “home” and feel totally not at home. It’s not easy and and something that many people don’t consider when studying abroad.

    I liked your six week plan, though! Very useful. Would you mind if we re-published this on our Study Abroad blog and linked back to this article?

    Hope you’re doing well!


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