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Home sweet home – Reverse Culture Shock

Updated: Nov 9, 2020

After work, trying to clear my mind and see what’s happening with my friends around the world, I started to scroll my Facebook. Usually, everyone posts how well they are doing but one post caught my attention and made me to think about it.

The friend who lived 6 years in Shanghai just went back to home – Netherlands for good. He mentioned that the life is so different, confused and doesn’t feel at home anymore. Just like when you stepped into foreign culture – you felt alone, you have hard time to adapting the weather, food and how things work differently… then you get home sick and maybe a bit of depression. Specially, someone who is coming from west to east or either way around. And my friend is looking for a tip who have had this kind of experience.

To be honest, I had same too! Of course, first few weeks are fun. There is an excitement to going back and seeing my parents, meeting my friends and go to shops, streets that I like to walk. Well this case in Mongolia it’s only one place which is State Department Store. When I was a kid, my mom would bring me there every weekend. Because it used to have wide range of goods, clothing and foods considering that time Mongolia was one of the communist country. But this time was different. When I left home about 7 years ago, Ulaanbaatar had only 2 skytowers – my office was at one of them, and 3rd building was still under construction. Now it has extended, new roads but still narrow and traffic jam got worse, so many housings while number of yurt “Ger” decreased. And plus having ONLY meat – fried, boiled, and steamed was delicious yet boring!

The second shock of coming home was simply my friends & family didn’t understand the NEW me. Anyways, I had come to realise that I didn’t fit in anymore.


In some articles, they describes this strange feeling as a W-curve pattern; and even without realising it, reverse culture shock happens after our long vacation too. The symptoms of reverse culture shock is including frustration, boredom, restlessness, depression and negative feelings towards your home country. Oh God! No way I would dare to say negative things about my country.

Going back to my friend’s question, how can we overcome “Reverse Culture Shock”? As we can see from the W-curve pattern above, it has a number of stages: at first, we get excited to return home YAY! – seeing friends and family members etc. And soon this initial euphoria eventually wears off, we find ourselves feeling out of place in own culture. This is the experience of reverse culture shock and it’s the bottom of the curve. According to Insider, it takes time and before going back to home reach out to your local friends and family – Prepare For It, try not to compare everything where you’ve been before – Be Open-Minded and readapt to your culture – Give A Time. Just like how we became the EXPAT. It took us a time to gain perspective, make sense of surroundings, readjusting and rebuilding it. We begin an adjustment back towards feeling comfortable with where are we. After this transition, we get back to normal till next destination.

Home is not where you’re from it’s where you make it.

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