Reverse Culture Shock is a period of adjustment to your home culture and of the integration into your life of what you have learned abroad.  It is an emotional and psychological stress people go through when returning home after an extended stay abroad. It is similar to your initial adjustment to living abroad.

So, what characterizes reverse culture shock: an idealized view of home and the expectation of a total familiarity (that nothing at home has changed while you have been away). Reverse culture shock is difficult because it is unexpected! You expected things to be different upon your arrival to Peace Corps, but you wonder why they should be different as you go home.

Did these stages happen to you?

  1. Disengagement
    You begin thinking about re-entry and making your preparations for your return home. You also begin to realize that it’s time to say goodbye to your Peace Corps friends and local friends/family to the place you’ve come to call home. The hustle and bustle of good-bye parties, and packing can intensify your feelings of sadness and you might be reluctant to leave. Or, you may make your last few days fly by so fast that you don’t have time to reflect on your emotions and experiences.
  2. Initial Euphoria
    This usually begins shortly before departure, and it is characterized by feelings of excitement and anticipation - even euphoria - about returning home. This is very similar to the initial feelings of fascination and excitement you may have when you first entered your host country. You may be very happy to see your family and friends again, and they are also happy to see you but don’t have time to listen to your stories.
  3. Irritability and hostility
    You may experience feelings of frustration, anger, alienation, loneliness, disorientation, and helplessness and not understand exactly why. You might quickly become irritated or critical of others and of your home culture. Depression, feeling like a stranger at home, and the longing to go back abroad, are also not uncommon reactions.
  4. Readjustment and adaptation
    Readjustment and adaptation is a gradual readjustment to life at home. Things will start to seem a little more normal again, and you will probably fall back into some old routines, but things won’t be exactly the same as how you left them. You have most likely developed new attitudes, beliefs, habits, as well as personal and professional goals, and you will see things differently now. The important thing is to try to incorporate the positive aspects of your Peace Corps experience while with your life at “home” now.