What would you do if you lived away from home for so long that it no longer felt like home anymore?
What would you do if you lived the most crazy life filled with adventures, no day like the other, working many jobs and rarely sleeping but loving every minute, every second—good and bad—because it taught you so much about yourself and the world that made everything you once knew seem so small?
What would you do then?
I find myself asking this a lot as I’m finally coming to terms with being back in my home city after the expiration of my Youth Mobility Visa.
This visa let me, a Canadian, live and work in the UK for two years where I not only thrived in a busy environment, but also got to travel to so many amazing places and make friends from different countries.
To be back in the quietness of my house and old routine, I fully reflect on all of my wonderful experiences and how outstanding it was to have met the people that I met.
No matter what happens in the future, I’ll always be thankful for the time I’ve had and the memories made with my friends who have become my family over the past two years.
Since I’ve been back a few weeks, I thought I’d share what it’s really like to experience reverse culture shock—and hopefully I can help some other travellers see that any change of this magnitude does affect you in ways you may not have anticipated.
You just get off of a crazy long plane ride and are instantly met with family. Having been away for so long, it was of course so nice to see my family and it’s a great distraction for the sadness of leaving behind my housemates and friends. The first week or so is just full of family dinners and is go-go-go.
Lack of travel talk
Okay, hear me out. I know that if your audience (AKA my friends and family) are not used to travel they may not have much to contribute in conversation. But it was a bit disheartening to not even be asked much about my travels, and I just found myself defaulting to conversation about the local less-exciting life of my home town.
Not having people to converse with about my adventures is the main reason I’m writing this post, because some things need to be said and there’s just too much in my head to not put it somewhere!
Life here has moved on
I admit I wasn’t the best at keeping in contact with all my mates back home while I was abroad. There was just always so much happening and the time difference turned phone calls into text messages which turned fewer and fewer as the months went on.
The space you once filled in their lives, they filled with something else. And now that you’re back, you’re the one with the huge gap and it’s a bit shocking to deal with all of that at once.
Of course you can try to reconnect or even make new friendships, but you have to accept both of these courses will require work.
Yet things have stayed the same
As much as people have gotten used to you being away, much of the daily lives of your friends and family have remained the same.
It’s difficult to relate to people who have worked at the same job everyday and have stayed in the same city.
I haven’t even spoken to many people in person yet about my travels but to “catch up” with me would require a 200 page PDF document listing everything that has happened in the past 2 years.
I’ve already even classed (to myself) three different versions of each country I’ve been to depending on who I was talking to; ie. there’s a scandalous version, a PG version (for the fam), and a personal version that could contain small things that meant a lot to me but may be indifferent to others.
Let me know if you’d like some tidbits of any of these possible lists! I’ll put a list of the countries I’ve been to down below, feel free to question me on anything as I consider myself quite knowledgeable now on solo travel.
The isolation is real
Right before moving back home I was living in a share house with 8 other people similar to my age from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and England.
If you know anything about these lovely countries, you know that they mean a great time with a social atmosphere.
Coming from that to living with a dog is a lot.
I’ve barely been alone at all in the past few years, so it’s very different to experience quiet and personal space. I’ve grown used to always being around people, which as an introvert, has been such a great transformation for me personally.
I’ve grown to speak my mind and always have someone to bounce ideas off of. That connection is something I miss, but hope to find again wherever I am.
I guess you will never really feel at home again, so what you have to feel is at home with yourself.
I really think that that is key in moving forward.
Please let me know if you’ve experienced this reverse culture shock before and how you’ve handled it! Alternatively, if you had the means to move to another place, would you?
PS. As promised:
Countries I’ve explored:
Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bosnian, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, England, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Macedonia, Montenegro, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Turkey, United States, Wales