Reverse Cultural Shock!

When it comes to coming back home, one of the problems a returnee has to deal with is handling the sudden change in culture. A returnee is faced with the problem of having to deal with this unsettled feeling that is associated with his return from abroad. This is known and called “reverse culture or cultural shock.” This is common to all returnees who return home from some country. It is normal for a returnee to feel unloved or misunderstood by people around him. He feels that he is struggling to pass his idea or feelings across to people around him. A returnee also feels unsettled especially when it comes to loosing his identity; he feels threatened, and also doesn’t want to find himself in the mix. He doesn’t want to lose a part of his identity especially if he doesn’t have an outlet to pursue his new found interest that he started while he was out of the country.

What I really want you to understand is that your reaction to reintegrating into the system back home in Nigeria may differ or vary from one friend to another. Let’s look at some of the following in terms of reactions:

  • Restlessness
  • Rootless
  • Boredom
  • Depression
  • Uncertainty
  • Feeling of being at sea about what the future holds for you
  • Isolation
  • Loneliness
  • The feeling that makes you want to be alone all the time
  • Insecurity

What are those signs or symptoms that reveal or show that you are suffering from reverse homesickness? Some of these include the following:

  • Missing the lifestyle of your host community
  • Missing your new found friends
  • Missing a lot of places
  • Missing their kind of foods
  • Changes in life goals and priorities

The general negative attitudes being shown by other countries towards Nigeria could also include our attitudes and way of life as Nigerians, attitudes, customs and common social practices among others.

According a study conducted by top professionals in the field of International Education; 85% of people returning home have some kind of re-entry experience. Of those, 15% have more serious difficulties adapting to their return. If you are having difficulty with your return, think back to the adjustments you made to succeed while you were abroad. These same skills can help your coming home. Do you remember the “W”-curve of cultural adjustment, the initial euphoria, followed by lots of criticism, followed by general acceptance and understanding of the new culture? Well, the same pattern applies to re-entry.

The coping skills and strategies that were successful in helping you adjust to your overseas culture will be just as helpful in making the return home. Get involved, identify a support group of other returnees who recently arrived home from living abroad, suspend judgment of others, keep a journal of observation, and don’t forget  your sense of humour.

Below you will find some quotes from some returnees that might help you understand how to handle things on your own:

Bimbo: “Being away for such a long time makes coming home even more difficult considering how things at home have changed and how things you never did before and you have the mission of telling people about your experiences they don’t understand.”

Tunde:“I am having to face a lot of things I never thought I would face before coming back home; but communicating my plans, emotions, and ideas have not been that easy. I seem like a man who dropped from the moon in the eyes of everyone back home.”

So my people , embrace it , live it and try make the best of every situation you find yourself in .Remember you are blessed to have been and lived abroad to see and learn a different culture. Let your experience abroad come alive and remember you are back home to make the very best in life.

I wish you the very best in life and in your new environment.

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