Reverse Culture Shock

I’m very excited as I’ll be leaving for Mexico next weekend. I’ve been lucky to be able to visit my home town every year so far. For those of you that moved to Canada and have gone back to visit your native country, you may have experienced what I’m about to describe: reverse culture shock. I never knew such a thing even existed but I now know that’s what I went through on my last trip to Mexico. This year I want to be prepared to avoid the uneasiness that reverse culture shock causes.

Reverse culture shock  is defined as “The shock suffered by expatriates returning home after lengthy overseas assignments. It is caused by the fact that the cultural norms of the ex-pat’s overseas assignment become natural to them, over their home country’s own traditions and customs.”

On my last visit to Mexico (last year) I remember feeling out of place when I first arrived. I felt that it took my mind a couple of days to register that I was back in my native country. I felt very confused and shocked by how much my city had changed. I also felt disconnected from people like my friends. It wasn’t a good feeling and I thought it was silly to feel that way in my own country. Now I know that I’m not the only one and it helps to know it’s natural to go through it when you have been away for some time. It took me only a couple of days to feel that I “belonged” again. It’s strange and may be hard to understand for people that have never experienced it. I always thought going back home meant going back to what I knew. The truth is, when you get used to a different way of life, language and culture, it takes some time to readjust.

Here are the stories of other people who experienced reverse culture shock upon going back to their countries both to stay and to visit:

Dealing with Reverse Culture Shock: A SSC’s perspective by Lindsay Simoncavage

Help, I’m suffering from reverse culture shock

Here is another story about reverse culture shock with great tips to overcome it:

Dealing with reverse culture shock

Have you ever experienced reverse culture shock? How did you deal with it? I’d love to hear about your experience.

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About Diana Massimi

As a newcomer in Canada, I've had some really great experiences. Every day, I continue to learn and adapt to my new country. As I've just passed the three year mark as a permanent resident, I'll soon be applying for citizenship. It's an exciting step to take and I'm looking forward to being "officially" Canadian. This blog is to share what I've learned so far and my everyday experiences and feelings being a newcomer to this country. More than anything I'll be looking forward to hearing from other newcomers and exchanging impressions and anecdotes about our new life in Canada. Feel free to share and ask questions, I'm also always happy to help a fellow newcomer!
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4 Responses to Reverse Culture Shock

  1. Punrun says:

    I’m sure I’ll experience it once I go back home a few years from now. In fact, I’m thinking about my reaction but I don’t have a term for it. Reverse culture shock is nothing that I heard of till I read your post. There are a lot to learn from fellow expats.

    Should I be worried more of reverse culture shock towards my homeland than culture shock of a second home? I’m doing just fine with the latter.

    Now, I know what to expect and how to prepare for it. Thanks for the information and may you enjoy your trip.

    • I think reverse culture shock is a bit harder than the culture shock you may experience when you move to a new country. See the thing is, you expect the culture shock of moving; on the other hand, when you go back to your native country, you expect to feel right at home. We don’t even realize how much we change by being in a new environment. Little things such as dressing differently in your new country or watching completely different TV shows can make you feel left out. It doesn’t last long though and it’s a matter of being prepared. It wasn’t too bad for me this time around!

  2. misiagalka says:

    This is a really interesting post, something that I’ve never really heard much about. I haven’t lived outside of Canada so I’ve never experienced it myself but I did have a strange experience last summer when I visited my family in Poland. I’ve always considered myself “Polish” or “Polish-Canadian” but never have I felt more Canadian than when I was in Poland. Its amazing how different even the tiniest of things are but also amazing is how quickly we adapt and change regardless of where we are. Have a great time in Mexico!

  3. Mark Darovny says:

    Perhaps this is a sign that you really are a Canadian now, Diana. If you feel like you’re “home” when you get back, that should confirm it. 🙂

    Hope you’re having (or had) a great visit!

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