It’s the one thing that you weren’t prepared for on your travels: coming home. Whether you were backpacking in South East Asia or InterRailing through Europe, once the initial euphoria at returning wears off, suddenly everyday home at home seems rather tame.
Reverse culture shock is suddenly not just something that’s discussed on traveler’s forums, it’s happening to you.
1. You Remember What Drizzle Is
Let’s not kid ourselves, one of the biggest lures of traveling somewhere like Thailand, Bali, or the Greek Islands is the gorgeous weather. After soaking up the sun in a traveler’s paradise and living in a bikini and a sundress, returning to the UK’s chilly drizzle is an unpleasant shock.
2. You Can’t Get Your New Favorite Meal
If you’ve spent weeks or months immersed in cultures where food is seasonal, local and prepared freshly, pre-packaged and processed food can taste bland and cardboard-like. What’s more when you get a craving for your new favorite dish, whether it’s di san xian (a popular North Chinese dish of potatoes, eggplant, and green peppers) or a Greek sea-urchin salad that’s so fresh you can taste the ocean, you find that your local restaurant only serves Westernized versions of your beloved dishes or cuisine from a completely different region.
3. You Have to Remember That Bargaining Isn’t Acceptable
When you’re shopping in China, Southeast Asia or the Middle East, failing to haggle over purchases like clothes, crafts ,and traditional wares is actively insulting to the vendor. As a result, you’re used to a heated ten to fifteen minute exchange before buying a new handbag or blanket.
At first it was annoying and awkward but after a while, you grew to enjoy the more personal exchange and took pride in your ability to get a good price. Now, just quickly tapping in your PIN seems boring and anonymous.
4. You Wonder Why Everything Is So Expensive!
This won’t be such an issue if you’ve been exploring Australia or North America, but if you’re used to paying pennies for a beer or meal out in Asia, the cost of everyday items back in the UK suddenly seems extortionate. You realize that you’re paying more for a single round of drinks than you spent on night’s accommodation and food on the road!
5. You Feel Like You Never Left the 9-5
After two weeks back at work, it’s as if you never escaped the 9 to 5. As you jump into the email fray, stifle murderous thoughts about that colleague, and get bogged down in deadlines, it can seem bizarre that just a month or so ago you were riding an elephant.
6. Your New BFFs Are Now a 10 Hour Flight Away
One of the best things about traveling is getting to meet new people, often from backgrounds totally different to yours. Friendships are quickly made, as you bond over the highs and lows of life exploring unfamiliar countries and cultures. You create memories you’ll treasure for life.
But once you’re back home, these people are a long-haul flight and several time zones away, which can even make chatting on Skype difficult.
7. Your Hometown Is Way Too Quiet
The buzz and apparent chaos of street life in popular traveling spots like Thailand, China and India can be overwhelming when you first touch down. But as the months go by you grow to enjoy how vibrant just walking down the street is and you become acclimated to the noise.
In contrast, your hometown seems orderly to point of being sterile, while the quiet creeps you out. You miss buying food from street-corner vendors, stepping around kids playing and the old people sitting on the street chatting. You find that now what keeps you awake at night is the near-silence, not hooting car horns.
8. You Feel Like Everyone Is Too Similar
When traveling, it’s not uncommon to be the only person from your country, let alone region or town, in a group. Once your home, you find yourself back to spending most of your time with people from a similar cultural background again. Much as you like your friends and colleagues, it’s easy to miss mixing with people from widely different cultures.
9. Your Friends Have Changed
You kept in touch with email, Skype, and FaceTime, but inevitably you’re not the only one who changed while you were away. Friends have started new relationships, got engaged or married, moved, or changed jobs. Your oldest friend has a new bestie and you feel left out of the loop of conversation when it mentions events you weren’t here for and people you haven’t met yet.
10. You’re Already Planning Your Next Trip
Yes, you’ve just returned from a trip but you’re already googling flight prices for your next must-see destinations. Because for you, travel isn’t something you’ve got out of your system, you’ve realized that it’s a way of life.