February 9, 2012, by Gael
Beware Reverse Culture Shock
So yes, the winter freeze of the UK has finally hit – which saw endless snowfall on Saturday, and seems be threatening again this evening – eeeek! I got a beautiful snap of the snowflakes from my skylight window…
But I must admit that the cold weather, while beautiful, does make me hark after the sun soaked says of Aus. Yes, I’ll admit it, Reverse Culture Shock still has its grip on me – but this week, there have been breakthroughs; firstly, and perhaps most importantly, I’ve managed to pinpoint the different ways in which the W curve cleverly makes me feel quite displaced…
If it’s not with the bitter English weather, it’s the familiarity of friendship groups that have changed beyond recognition since my return to the UK. If it’s not coping with these alterations, then it’s the expectations of fashion and make-up, or general attitudes, and even the standard of Sushi and Coffee that just leave me feeling a little lost. It sounds petty, and admittedly is not the end of the world, but it’s those little things that end up leaving you feel confused, and struggling to find your path. Do not under estimate the RCS… But how to cope with it?
First I’d suggest that prevention is always better than cure; returning home is not something you think you need to prepare for, you may have spent hours preparing for your trip abroad, and worrying about minute details…but returning home also needs some consideration – you need to not only say goodbye to the friends you made, but also to the experience you had – you may return to the place in the future, but you will never return to the same situation or experience and you need to accept and say goodbye to that and you may also need to wave goodbye to the person you were during that experience – there is no guarantee you will harbour that identity back home. Prepare a little, and be kind to yourself. My coping techniques this week have been to acknowledge the existence of RCS in my life, and it’s sheer force over my day to day feelings – make sure you jot down how it’s affecting you, and talk to others in a similar situation just to get those thoughts and feelings out (the international office is a good shout) find a way to express yourself – currently my digiessay on my time abroad is working wonders for this!
I’ve also found that finding the things that have remained constant in my Uni Life back at UoN also help place my current limbo in identity;
• My degree – a constant; the reason I am university, perhaps the one area that has remained throughout both experiences, and now, final semester – it’s crunch time. Focus on work. Sometimes it really does help.
• Student Ambassador – a constant; one of the few things that hasn’t changed at all while being abroad, it’s nice to slip quietly back into a role I excel at, as if nothing much has changed, and is also a good way to talk up my study abroad experience to eager listeners!
This week I’ve got stronger, and I’m sure next week I’ll be even more settled, Nottingham itself provides familiarity and a sense of home that makes each day easier. If you’re suffering from RCS – be kind to yourself, take each day as it comes, and identify what it is that makes you feel sad, and more importantly what it is that makes you feel happy!
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