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Returning Home - Reverse Culture Shock

If you are in the process of planning a gap year or independent travel, returning home is probably the last thing on your mind and yet it is likely to be one of the harder parts of your journey. Whatever your age and experience, you are likely to find coming home a challenging time.

Reverse culture shock is the experience of returning to something that was once familiar but which now seems different.

Whilst the environment you return to is unlikely to have changed dramatically, you may have changed considerably. After time being away and ‘out of the loop’ it can be difficult to get back in; the way you think changes the way you perceive and a sense of isolation and stagnation can quickly occur.

You may have convinced yourself that you will not be a ‘travel bore’ who always talks about ‘the time I was in…’; but you will! You will also find it strange that people are not interested in what you have to talk about – how could they not be – rest assured you aren’t the first and you won’t be the last.

Make sure you hold on to the mobile numbers and email addresses of those people you meet along the way, they are more likely to want to relive your adventures.

Whilst returning home should not be the focus of your travel plans, it should also not be ignored. Candidates attending our Independent Travel Safety & Cultural Awareness Workshop are advised to consider life after travel, to arm themselves with the knowledge that they may require a period of adjustment on their return.

You may not appreciate this reverse culture shock until you eventually get home, having a plan in place for when you return means you can put it out of your mind throughout your travels.

While you are on your travels ‘normal’ life goes on, getting your affairs in order before you leave will hopefully avoid any nasty surprises when you return. Keep in touch with people whilst you are away, share some of your travel stories with them and ask them to keep you up to date with what is going on back home. You’ll be surprised how much it bridges the gap on your return.

Planning for your return does not need to tie you into a specific project, employment opportunity or higher education course, it can be a flexible plan. Coming back without a plan after a long trip will considerably increase the length of time it takes to adjust and reintegrate into ‘normal’ life at home.