Reverse culture shock – the journey home from UL by Michelle Lee, UL International Student Ambassador

Whether we want to admit it or not, the end of the school year is here. For me, I have a month long trip planned back home in Massachusetts to look forward to and then I’ll be locking myself away in the UL library writing a dissertation. I know others won’t be as lucky to be able to return back to the place they have called home for the past few months. Study Abroad and Erasmus students have just spent the past few months adjusting to Irish life, making new friends and experiencing a culture totally different than their own and it’s sadly coming to an end.

Students holding Irish Flag outside the Main Building

When I first returned home from my time abroad I experienced so many emotions. One day I was happy to see my friends and family but then the next I was sad and missing Ireland. I had a bad case of reverse culture shock.

Reverse culture shock is completely normal and unless you had a bad time in Ireland or felt that you were completely satisfied with your experience, then you are going to experience this culture shock one way or another.

They say time abroad changes a person and I believe it really does. Your horizons are broadened, you have had experiences that you probably wouldn’t get in your home country and overall, your perspective on the world has changed. It’s inevitable you’re going to have mixed emotions about returning home to a place that has not changed when you have changed so much.

Xue Jiang - Our International Irish Party
Photo credit: Yuki Jiang, UL

Whatever you do, don’t try to fight it!  At first, everyone will want to hear about your time abroad. This is great because you will love sharing your stories! But after a while people will have heard the stories and seen the pictures but you’re just going to want to keep talking. Trust me, to this day I still talk about my study abroad experience – three years on! I found it best to make an effort to keep in touch with the friends you made while abroad. This helps because they can be the ones you continue to talk about your time abroad with since they experienced it as well.

Another solution to help ease your sadness is to volunteer at your Universities’ study abroad office. Most offices have opportunities for returning students to share their experiences to encourage other students to go abroad. Here you will know that no one will ever get sick of hearing your stories because there are always students interested to hear about your time abroad.

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And lastly, thank god for social media because this can be your outlet to help ease the sadness of returning home. Keep in touch via Facebook or other sites to keep up with friends you made in Ireland. Post all of the pictures you took during your time in Ireland, even if it’s thousands. People may not want to hear the stories anymore but everyone loves looking at pictures.

Just remember, even as time moves on the memories of your time in Ireland will always be with you. And you never know, you could find yourself back in the country travelling or studying in no time 🙂

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