Heading Home: 5 Issues You May Face Upon Reentry

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So you’re done teaching English overseas (at least for now) and you’re ready to head back to your home base. It should be easy to transition back into your own culture, right?

Well, not necessarily. After living abroad for a number of years, or even coming home for summer vacations, I always found that there was an adjustment period where I felt like a foreigner in my home country. Here are some of the issues I faced upon reentry.

-Nobody cares about my overseas experience.

I thought that all of my friends and family would want to spend time hearing about my time abroad, and let’s face it, who doesn’t like to talk about themselves? To my surprise, many people were completely uninterested.  I came to realize that what was an amazing experience for me could not always be conveyed in a story or through pictures, making it tedious for listeners to hear about. I found it was best to talk about my time abroad with others who had also traveled abroad. We could swap stories without feeling like we were boring the other one to tears.

-Can I drink this water?

I know this sounds strange, but whenever I returned home it would always take me a split second to think about whether or not I could drink the water or brush my teeth with water directly from the tap. This of course would pass with time, but to this day I still appreciate a nice cold glass of tap water.

-Grocery stores/malls are overwhelming.

After living in countries with open-air markets that had very limited selections, walking into a US grocery store or mall seemed like entering a decadent palace of goodies. I had to remind myself, that no, I did not need a jumbo pack of Twinkies or five new pairs of jeans. Thankfully, living in third world countries, you come to understand how little you really need.

-I’m out of touch with pop culture/current events.

With social media networks, this may not seem like such a difficult task to keep up with, but even if you live somewhere with a great internet connection, you are sure to miss out on events from your home country.  I came to realize though, that this was a small sacrifice compared to what I was seeing and learning abroad.

-Bugs, bugs, everywhere.

It could be the middle of the night, but when I feel a little tickle on my leg, I immediately want to jump up, throw off my blankets and check for creatures in my bed. It always ends up being nothing, but I don’t think I will ever get over the fear that something furry or slimy might be lurking under the covers.

There will almost always be a period of adjustment when arriving in a new country or returning home, but I will never let this prevent me from traveling, exploring, and learning about new places.

April 23, 2012