Reverse culture shock... what you can expect.

Have you been travelling the world for the 6-12 months, 2, 3, 5 years?

Or perhaps you've been living and working in another country? The time has come to return home...the departure date has crept up on you and your time overseas is coming to an end?


Perhaps you have just arrived home or been home for a few months now.

Chances are by now you've heard about the dreaded reverse culture shock and are maybe even experiencing it. You know that feeling when you come home and just don't feel like you belong? Your lost, stuck or just don't relate anymore.

Here are the phases you can expect to transition through...

Realisation of the return home

The flight date is looming closer and your life in this country will soon be ending, you can see the end looming and it seems to becoming faster than you expected. You...

  • are experiencing mixed emotions about leaving the new culture or travel life.
  • start to consciously live every moment.
  • start checking off the list all the things you want too.
  • have feelings of excitement for your return home and maybe feelings of dread.
  • begin mentally preparing for the return home.
  • start saying goodbyes and final farewells to places and loved ones you have experienced in this chapter of your life.

Initial excitement for landing back in your motherland

There is a certain nurturing feeling about coming home. The place where everything is familiar and in some cases your family and friends are waiting to see you and hear about what you have been doing.

  • Excitement for being back in the place where you build your foundations.
  • Euphoric feelings of seeing old friends and family.
  • Storytelling and sharing your experiences with those around you.
  • Seeing how things have changed or not changed.
  • Reconnection with places, people and things that you once new.

Denial of your return home

As if you have left your life in a new country or travels behind (because you have) - your mind is full of what you created during your travels. The new places you saw and how you adapted to the different culture. You desperately want this to be a part of your life now. You...

  • experience confusion and shock as to how things have changed or perhaps not changed.
  • realise that some people are not really interested in what you have been up too despite you having feelings of being on a life changing journey.
  • continually think of the life you made abroad before coming home.
  • keep questioning yourself as to ‘why did I come home?’ or maybe ‘Should I not have came back?’

Unhappiness, Misery, Gloom, Melancholy and sometimes depression

Self doubt creeps in about your current life situation as do feelings of inadequacy and guilt.

  • Reality sets in and your find yourself - bored, alienated and at a low point with your life as you see it.
  • You experience feelings of being stuck and not sure how to get over it.
  • You feel as if you don’t belong and nobody really understands you.
  • This is can be accompanied by lack of energy and disturbance of appetite and sleep.

Frustration about your position moving to accepting where you are

The feelings bubble within you and you have not choice but to make peace with them so you can attempt to move forward.

  • Recognition for the feelings and emotions you are experiencing and the reality that you find yourself in at home.
  • Sometimes you feel angry about the decision you have made to return home or the situation you now find yourself in.
  • Things are not how you thought they would be.
  • Some people have moved on from your friendship.
  • You just don't relate anymore.

Adjusting, adapting and experimenting

You start to realise that you are the only person who can pull yourself through this transition and you start to implement small changes in your mind and approach to life.

  • Despite being unsure you become curious, creative, and interested in what the world around, your home, you has to offer.
  • You start to build a new community around you.
  • You begin playing with new ideas and things that inspire you.
  • Trial and error as you figure out how to create your NEW life on your old home.
  • Letting go of things friends and beliefs believes that no longer serve you.


You commit to stepping into owning your life back home and making it exactly as you want. You...

  • start opening up your mind to the potential of how your life can be.
  • step into and own the new changes for your life.
  • work on yourself and your mindset to grow and learn.
  • step into the new adventure and embracing everything coming your way.
  • acknowledge your past experience of time abroad and moving forward - you desire less and less to be back travelling or living abroad.

Integration find purpose and meaning

Finally the time were you start to feel completely comfortable with where you are. As much as you loved travelling and your time abroad you can also understand the reasons why you have returned home and why this is best for you. You...

  • embrace your new life in old home and really start to enjoy every day.
  • find how and where you fit in your community to best suit yourself
  • find meaning and purpose in how you relate and the life you are setting up around you.

The reverse culture shock and how they transition through these phases will be different for everyone. How deeply you feel immersed in each phase will depend on a variety of factors.

  • How much time you spent away.
  • How immersed in the culture you are.
  • How adaptable you are.
  • Your mindset and approach to life.
  • Your support network.

You may find that some phases overlap and intertwine and some will be short and others long and maybe there are some that you don’t really experience at all.

On a final note...

Reverse Culture shock is a transition of change and growth. There will be highs and lows as you navigate your way through the thoughts, feelings and emotions that are stirred up within you about your past travels, your present situation and your future ideas. Try to experience everything no matter if it feels negative, positive, uncomfortable, uneasy, incredible. Know that you don’t have to feel amazing 100% of the time. If you feel like you need help, don't be afraid to reach out. Many people are experiencing the a similar change.


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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