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Antony Chacko
02 Dec 2014 191 2 mins Share

Studying Abroad and Reverse Culture Shocks

The situation where a person is forced to reconcile with the culture of a country they originated from, which could be drastically different from the one they have been used to in recent times.

02 Dec 2014 191 2 mins Share
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culture shock

For students in India, going abroad to pursue higher studies is a dream they nurture from a young age. They go abroad, study, settle in, adapt themselves to the new country, food habits, art, and culture, going on to make friends and completing their course. Whilst some of these aspects are challenges when they land in the foreign country, it becomes a part of who they are, and when it comes to returning home or visiting, it is the "reverse culture shock" that hits them.

Imagine living in the USA where it is alright to talk to your friends about intimate matters, or wearing a certain kind of dress, but when you return to India, people might frown on you, or reprimand the same behavior? This is what happens to students when they shuttle between two very culturally different countries.

What is this Reverse culture shock?

The situation where a person is forced to reconcile with the culture of a country they originated from, which could be drastically different from the one they have been used to in recent times or getting used to the changes that have taken place in their home country while they were away, which could leave them feeling lost.

The Stages

Reverse culture shock is described in 4 stages:

1) Disengagement:
This stage sets in before the student leaves the country they have come to call home. They start saying their Good-byes and look forward to heading back home, but there is a small fragment of fear, insecurity that sets in. Doubts set in about whether they have made the right decision to go to back home.

2) Initial euphoria:
This stage begins just before the actual departure. A mixture of excitement, anxiety, anticipation, maybe even euphoria could set in when thinking about returning home.  This is infact very similar what the student felt when they left home.  The joy of seeing familiar faces, being with the family, surrounded by close friends, the warmth of the home might be the light at the end of the tunnel. People might be keen to move to another topic during conversation, or pay less attention to the person just because they are home after long.

3) Irritability and  hostility
Well, with the changes that one is bound to face, there will be change in behavior patterns. The most obvious being the anger, frustration, loneliness, insecurity, helplessness and the constant need to understand what is happening around.  The student might get irritated when someone criticizes the country they have just returned from. There are possibilities of students going into depression, because they feel ignored and alone.

4) Readjustment and adaptation
The final stage is all about adjusting at home.  Don't force it, give yourself time to get comfortable and settle in. Picking up new habits, changing attitude, new improvements on both personal and professional front will soon follow once the adjustment phase is completed.

The one golden rule for all students returning home is to bring back the fond memories and learnings, while remembering they are coming back home, to the people who've been with them all their life and take it from there.

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