As I get ready to go home, I continue to try and work through my emotions, and I have gotten nowhere. After living in a completely new place and finally getting used to it, I have to go back home. I have to readjust to my normal. I have to go back to being almost completely on my own. I have to go back to work, back to the societal problems of the United States, back to the busy and expensive life I live. It’s a hard reality for me. However, I also get to go back to the people I love. I get to pet my cat and visit my favorite restaurants and cafes. I have so many conflicting emotions, and I’ve looked into ways to deal with this reverse culture shock.
A good way to deal with reverse culture shock is to try and stay connected with the friends you’ve made in your program. I personally have three or four people that I have managed to get very close with during my time here. After a few weeks, those people go out for coffee or dinner. Letting those relationships fade, will only worsen the sadness you feel. Also, don’t forget about your host family! My host family has told me multiple times that if I am ever back in Valencia, that I have a home here. I can always come back and visit. I have lived and grown with these people for two months. I have probably spent more time with them than with my friends. Again, keeping those relationships strong, will make going home feel less like you’re being ripped away from your new home.
Another thing that may help is getting in touch with your own city. After living in one place for so long, you’ve likely fallen in love with your city. Valencia is so beautiful and full of life that I feel like my city back home won’t be able to compare. However, take some time to explore and learn about your own city. You can still travel and find new experiences within your own country as well. Also, while exploring, maybe you’ll find a restaurant that makes the food you’ve fallen in love with, or a tapas bar with authentic patatas bravas. Finally, keep an eye out for any culture festivals or events that they also celebrate in the country you studied abroad in.
Finally, all I can say is keep an eye on how you’re doing. If you aren’t doing well, tell someone you trust. If your school has emergency counseling, give them a call. Maybe you’ll be completely fine, but just make sure you’re keeping up with your mental health. Just like the culture shock you felt when arriving here, you might feel it one more time, and it may be better or worse. For me, it feels like I’m losing a friend that I’ve known for a while, and it hurts a lot. However, what I feel is not what you or anyone else will feel. We can all only try and deal with this in the best ways we know.