So if you’ve been living in the UK for the past 10 years for example, going back to South Africa could present a complete reverse culture shock. Below you’ll discover everything you need to know about reverse culture shock and how to handle it.
Understanding reverse culture shock
The reason reverse culture shock occurs is because you consider your home country to be exactly that – home. When you move away for a number of years, things change. You start to live a different culture which becomes the norm. While you’re changing, your home country is also going through changes. So when you finally move back, the image of home that you once had is often very different from the reality.
Reverse culture shock stages
There are various stages you will go through when arriving back in South Africa. At first you’re likely to be excited. You’re going back to where you came from which means you’ll be surrounded by familiar faces and places. You can eat at your favourite old restaurants and catch up with old friends and family.
That excitement doesn’t always last very long however. Many people experience a number of symptoms when they move back home. These include:
- Sleep problems
In some cases it can feel like you are becoming physically ill. This isn’t usually a genuine illness, it is merely signs that you are adjusting to your new environment. Homesickness is one of the most surprising symptoms you may experience. Missing your life back in the UK or other country is entirely normal and it will take time to get used to living back in South Africa.
If symptoms such as insomnia and exhaustion continue, it is recommended you visit a doctor to ensure there are no underlying problems.
How to manage reverse culture shock
Being prepared for the symptoms you may experience when moving back to South Africa will help you to deal with them in a healthy, productive way. As silly as it may sound, one of the best ways to cope is to learn as much as you can about current South African culture. You may think as it is your home country, you know everything there is to know. However, as mentioned earlier, things change and the country you once knew is likely to be different in many ways.
It can also help to check out advice from other expats who have gone through the same experience. The internet is extremely useful for finding reviews and blogs from people who are going through the same life experience. You could gain great tips on how to cope with the culture changes and what exactly you can expect when you arrive home.
Maintaining the lifestyle you have grown accustomed to is also highly recommended. There is a temptation to change in order to fit in. However, this will only lead you to feel even more homesick and alienated. Carrying on your lifestyle you have grown used to will help you to transition much better than if you try to change.
Overall moving back to South Africa can be a great experience, but it isn’t always the smooth transition you think it will be. Being prepared for reverse culture shock is one way to ensure you get the best out of the experience.
Love Removals has helped many people repatriate to their home country and offers a professional removals and storage service.