I’ve found that sometimes it’s helpful to think of America as a ‘foreign country’ when dealing with reverse culture shock. It’s helpful to think of it this way when I notice things, or feel stressed out or confused, because you tend to give a little more grace and forgiveness if it’s ‘foreign’.

When we first moved overseas we expected things to be different. We expected to have culture shock and to be confused. And so when we were it was only natural. And it was easy to pinpoint our stress. Just look around. Everything was foreign and new! The people, the sites, the sounds, smells, traffic, animals, hustle and bustle, language, etc. We expected things to be different, and it was.

You experience many of the same feelings and emotions, confusion, anger, bewilderment, etc. as normal culture shock, only you can’t quite pinpoint the source of your stress.

But reverse culture shock isn’t that easy. The hardest part about reverse culture shock is that you don’t expect it! You experience many of the same feelings and emotions, confusion, anger, bewilderment, etc. as normal culture shock, only you can’t quite pinpoint the source of your stress.  Everything ‘looks’ and ‘feels’ normal, predictable, as it should, but for some reason you’re stressed out and you can’t explain it. That’s reverse culture shock. And it sneaks up on you. It doesn’t hit you in the face like traveling to another country where the changes and differences are obvious. But reverse culture shock is subtle and elusive. Everything looks normal, but why doesn’t anybody act or behave the way I expect them to?!

So for me, when going through reverse culture shock it’s sometimes helpful to treat this like I’m visiting a foreign country and not my passport country. That way I expect it to be different. I allow it to be different. This is me. And this is America. We’re different. And that’s okay. Don’t take it personally.

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