I was talking to a new friend from Switzerland during my last days in Nepal. He said he is missing home and is finally glad to be going home in a few weeks. On the contrary, I have mix feelings. Although I’m homesick, I’m actually hesitant to go home. I was in a dilemma whether I should go home or not.
Eventually I did (because I lost a big online client so I can’t sustain my travels and have to go back home, boo).
It has been my fourth time to go home after long travel trips. Long travel trips means traveling internationally and not going home for 3 months to 1+ years. I guess I should be expert in handling reverse culture shock when I finally go back. The 1st time was not really easy.
It’s like missing home when you’re out traveling, and once you are finally home, you can’t really fit in and want to go out and travel again.
But geesh, I’ve been in this stage for many times already, so I should make it a point to counteract such behaviours. For those undergoing reverse culture shock, here’s what I did that you can do too.
Reverse culture shock number 1. You can’t cope up with the weather. If you came from a colder country, your body has adjusted to 10 degrees as normal temperature.. and now the Philippines has very warmly welcomed you with 35+
For westerners, being in warm temperatures is actually ok, but not for us who have to bear with the humidity and heat since day 1 of our lives.
Solution: If there are no aircondition and malls, try to go to places with cool temperatures. There’s Tagaytay and Baguio in Luzon, Aningalan, Antique in Visayas, Lake Sebu in Mindanao. These places are heaven, when you feel like you are in hell.
If you’re being frugal, bath more than once and lots of cold drinks might ease you a bit. Oh, you were greeted by typhoons and floods instead? At least it’s not 35+ degree weather, be thankful. Stay safe indoors.
Reverse culture shock number 2. Traffic and pollution drives you nuts. If you have lived abroad where there are lots of green or you have lived in a deserted place where traffic is not in the vocabulary of people, then these are primary annoyances. I remember a co-worker from Canada experiencing a “traffic” in Chiang Mai… vehicles were not moving for only 10 minutes and they call that traffic.. I chuckled at the thought of the traffic in the concrete jungle in the Philippines.. and now that I’m back, I was like – hello real traffic! I missed you! NOT.
Solution: Stay away from the concrete jungle. The provinces are full of greens with almost non existing traffic.. Try working alternatives like work from home schemes. Or if you really need to go to the Metro for work, avoid rush hour.
Reverse culture shock 3. You have already adjusted to foreign food and sometimes craved for it badly. I remember one friend when she got back to London, she says she would kill for a cup of Chai as a status message. I’m sure she’s already contemplating on how to book flights to India again.
Solution: Learn how to cook foreign food. If there are no ready ingredients, improvised. I remembered an Indian friend who visited Manila bought chili and put it in her restaurant food because she says the food taste bland. When I came back from India, I felt the same and was craving for spicy foods too. I have readjusted now though really sometimes I crave badly for some foreign foods every now and then. I even learned how to cook Phad Thai noodles but the original one still taste better.
Reverse culture shock 4. You can actually understand what people are talking about because they are speaking the same language/dialect as yours. You can suddenly eavesdrop on people and somehow, you suddenly agree that ignorance is bliss.
Solution: You may feel irritated by the opinions of others but you can change your attitude in a way that foster understanding instead. They may have different point of views, and it does not automatically mean your views are smarter… although it maybe true… so make them understand your point of view instead.
Reverse culture shock 5. Dealing with envious people and people who don’t really care. I experience this very often, specially that I’m not like most OFWs who came home with money in their pockets. I just am rich in pictures and stories to tell, yet living in a materialistic society, it really doesn’t matter. Show the money, and you’ll instantly gain affection of people around you.
Solution: Real people who you should value will love you for who you are despite lack of material richness.. They will not be envious that you have spent great times in beautiful places with experiences that cannot be measured with money. If they aren’t in your current circle, let these people go out of your life, the universe will find a way for you to find real ones.
Oh, you can’t get rid of them because they are family? I can relate. I know it hurts but learn how to talk about your travels in a way that will not make them jealous, shut up if you have to. It will feel weird if you talk about, let’s say how you’ve seen the Himalayas and they have seen the same desk, work, ate the same food 24/7.
It will be great if you encourage people to travel too, that way you can share great stories. And eventually, you’ll find a great job because of your unique skills that you have accumulated on the road and your family will love you back.
Going back from travels is not really that bad, it should be a celebration that you have come back alive, safe and sound equipped with a larger view of the world that no other routine work lifestyle can accomplish. After a while, everything will be okay.. if not, here’s a quick fix: start to plan for the next escape again ;D
Here are similar experiences for people experiencing the blues after their long term trip, hope you get to learn a thing or two: