• Emily Kim

Bouncing Back: Managing Reverse Culture Shock

Updated: Aug 9, 2020



Why are you nervous? It's your family, your friends.


Jorge meant well. He really did. But that didn't help my anxiety. I was going home after living my first adult years abroad and I was terrified.


A​broad for me was literal. I moved to Madrid when I was twenty-two and, apart from a blip year home to finish school, Madrid has been my home ever since. I'm now twenty-eight. For others my age, abroad isn't necessarily international as it is out-of-state, but the idea's the same. At the end of the day, we've still got a solid plane ride back to our family homes.


So why do we do it? (Move abroad, I mean). Broadening horizons. Widened minds. That old chestnut.


I​ kissed Jorge goodbye at the airport and I was off. I drank three wines on the flight. W​ould I still fit in where I'd grown up? (Where most of my high school friends still lived; had set up lives?) Would my family make time to see me after I'd left them for the better part of five years?


I'd broken the cardinal rule in the South. I'd left.


S​o what is it like? Coming back-- for an extended visit, for good.


First, what is it?


The US Department of State's definition is pretty broad: "