How to Deal with Reverse Culture Shock After Studying Abroad

So, after an amazing few weeks or months abroad, and after following our list of 8 things to do before the end of your study abroad semester, you somehow got yourself on the plane back home, even though you really wouldn’t have been THAT upset if you happened to miss your flight. Do you remember that thing called culture shock, which you might have had when you first started your study abroad program? Well, now that you’re home, you’re bound to experience reverse culture shock. You’ll know you have it if you constantly feel nostalgic, miss every little thing about your time abroad, and wish you could go back and not be in boring old America anymore. It sucks– so here’s our tips on how to deal with reverse culture shock.

You get a weird feeling when you return home from your study abroad semester, and might find it tough to get used to being back in the US with your family and friends. That's called reverse culture shock-- here are our tips for how to deal with it.

Eat all of the foods you missed while abroad

Chipotle burritos. Chicken caesar salads. Your mom’s meatloaf. No matter where you studied, there were definitely some foods that you couldn’t wait to eat once you got back on US soil. So EAT!

Stay in touch with the friends you made

You’re going to be tempted to reminisce about every single experience that you had abroad with everyone that is lucky enough to be within earshot of you. Although your friends and family will love to hear about your adventures, they won’t be able to relate to much of what you have to share. So get your abroad friends’ American phone numbers and Skype names so you can relive your best moments with the people that shared them with you.

Spend time with your friends and family at home

You haven’t seen them in person for months, and they’ve missed you just as much as you’ve missed them. Take some time to show your family that you appreciate the amazing experience that they were able to provide for you, and catch up with your friends so you can hear all about what they did this semester (although we know that it wasn’t even CLOSE to as awesome as anything you did.)

Read next: Gift ideas for people suffering reverse culture shock

Reverse Culture shock photos

Get creative with your photos

You’ve got tons of photos, so create a shrine to your time abroad and get a little craftsy. Get on our travel DIY Pinterest board for inspiration, and make a scrapbook or a wall collage for your apartment. If you’re not good with glue and scissors, order your favorite photos on canvases, or make them into a photo book, magnets, an iPhone case, or even a pillow!

Read next: What to Do With Your Study Abroad Photos

Find bits of your abroad experience in the US

Believe it or not, you may be able to get some of your study abroad country faves in the good ole US of A. Many supermarkets have international sections, where they have beer, cheeses, and other specialty food products from all over the world. Your best bet is to visit a specialty food store, such as Whole Foods or a local marketplace to find the goods. You can find a lot of international products online as well.

reverse culture shock

Contain your worldly-ness

Many ex-study abroad-ers find themselves, er, hating on America upon their return. After months of living in a different country, where every aspect of life contrasts what you’ve grown up with and known your whole life, your outlook on how Americans live their lives is now very different from how it was before you left. You may be tempted to comment on every little “Americanized” thing that your friends or family do– like super sizing their meals, complaining when service is taking too long, or the fact that there are people out there that might not even have a desire to leave the US and experience other cultures.

This new you that you’ve become after your study abroad experience is great, and never lose this new perspective– but just be sure to not share this new perspective SO much that you seem condescending or enter know-it-all status.


Photo sources: Flickr, CanvasPop, Thumbpress

Jess is the Editor-in-Chief of The Abroad Guide. After studying abroad in Belgium during her junior year of college, she caught the travel bug. Her experiences include volunteering in Nicaragua, backpacking through Europe, and a year-long adventure in Italy, and she's now settled in London.

2 thoughts on “How to Deal with Reverse Culture Shock After Studying Abroad

  1. Hanna

    When I got back from Brazil, all I can remember is how COLD the Midwest felt (it was winter in the northern hemisphere.) I definitely spent my first Portuguese course back in the states bundled up in a million sweaters, pretending to be on a beach.


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