Fitting Back in After Study Abroad
A funny thing happened while you were studying English in the US. You became MORE comfortable in the country and culture that were terrifyingly foreign to you than you are now in your OWN country and culture since you’ve returned home!
“Reverse culture shock” is a very common experience for ESL students returning home from study abroad. You can feel like a fish out of water in your native country. Things at home changed while you were away. Time didn’t stop during your study abroad. People grew up, got older, made new connections, and you weren’t there for any of it. Even the news stories, TV shows, popular music, and fashion trends can be unfamiliar. It can feel like you’re the only one left out of an inside joke.
4 Ways To Cope With Feeling Like You Don’t Fit In
- Get online.
Join a discussion group or blog for ESL students returning home. You’re not the first person to feel out of step in your native culture. You can learn from other students’ experiences, or simply share your own experience with someone who understands.
- Revisit what worked for you when you came to the US.
You developed a lot of skills to adapt and fit in to the US culture when you first arrived to study ESL. Take those skills that worked for you there, and use them to help you readjust to life back home.
Talk with friends about what you missed. Don’t drone on and on about YOUR experience studying ESL in the US. Sure, it’ll come up, but keep your antenna up for the yawns and eye-rolls. If you want to fit in again back home, find out what’s been going on back home.
- Take a deep breath.
Just as it took you some time to get your feet under you in the US culture, it will take some time to fit back in at home after ESL study abroad.
You’re a different person. You’re seeing your own culture through new eyes, and from a more worldly perspective. Feeling like you fit in back home can take some time and effort, but don’t sweat it, you’ve cleared much higher hurdles!