Going back home? Prepare for a reverse culture shock

Studying abroad is absolutely an amazing experience – I know this because I have done three different exchange periods and worked abroad. In the beginning you are excited to go abroad. As a foreigner in a new culture you may feel homesick but after a while you start to feel more comfortable, adapt and sometimes even fall in love with the culture surrounding you.

That is what happened to me during my studies in Germany. At the arrival the german way of doing things felt a bit odd, but after finding some friends in a local heavy metal fan group germany started feeling almost home or even a bit better. I studied hard, learned to know many new friends, went to many parties and enjoyed my life. To find a suitable group helped a lot in this.

For me it felt that the end of every exchange period came fast. I had just learned to know the new culture better when I had to return back home. If my studies abroad felt easy and I felt special in my new environment coming back was the hard part. Suddenly Finland felt odd – i wanted to go back to Germany where I had such a blast.

According to the studies this kind of feelings are common for instance with expatriates who work long time periods abroad. The same applies certainly for students as well. For me talking about the feelings with friends and staying in touch with the new friends from Germany helped me to cope with the strange feeling of being outsider in my home country. Feelings passed in time as they did with the initial culture shock – so don’t be afraid if you miss Finland or the friends you made here during your stay. Stay in touch with them – for example using social media tools and remember – you are welcome to come back later as well.

The reverse culture shock makes you see your home country from a new perspective. And don´t worry or be afraid, the reverse culture shock will pass.

Hannu Järvistö,

Executive Director of Student Union JAMKO

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