Dealing with Reverse Culture Shock

While many people expect to encounter difficulties when moving from their home country to Japan , fewer imagine the difficulties experienced when returning. Although some people have no problems in re-integrating, others may find that both they and their home country have changed greatly during their period of absence, and have some difficulty in re-adjusting. This difficulty can be increased if friends and family expect you to be exactly the same person you were when you left, and fit back into exactly the same life. These difficulties are know as Reverse Culture Shock, and may be longer lasting and more severe than the Culture Shock experienced on moving to Japan . Generally speaking, the longer you have been away the more pronounced Reverse Culture Shock will be.

If you are having difficulties with Reverse Culture Shock, it is important to remember that you are not alone and that it is not a unique phenomenon. Many people have experienced it, and to some degree it is inevitable. However, there are some steps you can take to cope with it:

  • Realise that you have changed, and that you may not look on things in Ireland the same way you used to.
  • Try to maintain accurate memories, both positive and negative, of your time in Japan : be careful not to romanticise or demonise the past.
  • Accept that not everyone will be interested in your time in Japan , or in hearing about it.
  • Maintain ties with Japan through friendships, correspondence, activities or the media.
  • Life in Ireland may be less challenging than in Japan and you may find yourself becoming bored or frustrated; if so, taking up new activities can be immensely helpful.

Finally, remember that many other ex-JETs have been or may currently be in the same position, and are uniquely qualified to relate to your experience. Expressing your feelings and venting your frustrations can be just as important as they were in Japan!

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