What does it all mean?
As I started talking more and more about Reverse Culture Shock, I also realised that some of my thoughts and ideas were getting entangled with Post Travel Blues. I started using these words interchangeably, however I soon realised that they are not the same thing. In fact they are very very different. We can start by looking at the meaning of both. I found these definitions.
Reverse culture shock is "the emotional and psychological distress suffered by some people when they return home after a number of years overseas. This can result in unexpected difficulty in adjusting to the culture and values of the home country, now that the previously familiar has become unfamiliar.*" The only thing I would say about this is that one does not have to be away for a number of years to experience this phenomenon, it could simply be several weeks or months immersion into a particular culture or country.
Post travel blues is "a type of mood that persons returning home from a long trip (usually a holiday/vacation) may experience.**" What I would add to this is that is that it does not even have to be a ‘long’ trip. One may experience post travel blues after a week or two weeks of travel.
Diving in a little deeper.
Reverse Culture Shock (RCS)
RCS is the impact you experience after being exposed from another culture and removed from the culture of home. Your travels have changed you a lot which means things you have different ways of thinking, you perceive things differently and some of your beliefs may have changed. You see the world differently including the culture of your home.
A number of other factors may be impacting you due to all of these changes such as relationships and friendships, your health, what you want to do for a living, your financial situation and the way in which you choose to live your life.
RCS normally occurs after spending a lot of time immersed in a different culture or country, on some occasions a place where you have built a life for yourself. Set up friendships, worked and lived your every day. However it can also occur after shorter trips. Especially if you have been immersed and exposed to a very different culture to your own.
RCS can last a long time, experiencing a number of different stages that you may go through.
Post travel blues (PTB)
PTB on the other hand is quite a different phenomenon. This involves missing the freedoms that you had on your travels, vacation or holiday. This would normally occur after a short trip which was a break from your routine and is likely to be much more short lived.
Post travel blues will leave you longing for the experience that took you out of your everyday. It can leave you with feelings of dread for returning to your everyday life of the boring mundane routine. Funnily enough PTB is normally eradicated by getting back into routine of everyday life.
Can you experience both?
I’d suggest that it would be common for someone experiencing RCS to also have some feelings of PTB, the difference here is they may not be able to eradicate their feelings simply by returning to their routine as they may not have one. This may need to be established along with finding their new community in their home.
On the contrary, you may not experience either RCS or PTB after returning home from your travels.
RCS and PTB can be a catalyst for depression. The feelings and emotions are ones that you just can not shake and continues to impact your life in a negative way, one you don’t feel you can recover from easily.
It’s important to know and understand when you are feeling this way so you can seek professional help.
On a final note.
Whether your experiencing RCS or PTB or even depression, the most important thing is to recognise that you are facing this phenomenon. Once you realise what is going on you can then start to make steps to change it. Whether it be seeking help, reaching out and talking to family and friend, reading articles and books, listening to podcasts and starting to take action to move yourself into a better frame of mind.
Remember that it’s only a stage in your life and it will pass. Recognise it and start taking action to move yourself to a more uplifting stage of your life.
Are you feeling the effects of reverse culture shock? Having money troubles after travel? Are you ready to explore how the world can look now you are back from your big adventure? Book in for a complimentary session to talk through what is happening in your world and how I can help.
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