That there is great people and douche bags everywhere. Or the whole year. And it is realizing that you can be on your own, that you are an independent person. Exchange is everything. Remember what it was like those first few weeks and months going abroad? It was new, exciting, often confusing, and always changing. You probably became irritated with, and even hostile to, your host culture when the deeper differences between your culture and their culture became apparent. As you began to develop real language skills, and you better understood fundamentally different cultural values, you began the slow process of adapting.
Eventually, maybe only at the end of your stay, you began to realize how you could really fit in adapting fairly well to your adopted culture, while maintaining your own native cultural identity. You became bicultural. Most people who live abroad for an extended time go through similar successive stages of culture shock.
These stages are generally recognized as being:. Initial Excitement or Euphoria 2.
Irritability and Hostility 3. Slow and Gradual Adaptation 4. Eventual Adjustment to Biculturalism. If your experience was anything like this, you learned that culture shock is not just adjusting to jet lag and different food.
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And when you prepared for going abroad, you had some expectation that you would experience culture shock. As you return home, you are likely to experience some very similar, but possibly surprising reactions that are part of what is known as reverse culture shock, or re entry shock. This flurry of activity can cause a significant degree of disorientation, making it difficult to tell exactly what thoughts and feelings you are having.
Mixed in with all of this are two distinct and often conflicting reactions. One is the same excitement stage as in initial culture shock. It may be very exciting to be back, to see family and friends, to tell about your adventures and to do things you have missed for a year. If this reaction occurs, it fairly quickly wears off, and is replaced by the second stage of culture shock irritability and hostility. This stage often comes much more quickly than in initial culture shock, and can be much more severe and disturbing.
It also may be the first reaction you have to coming home, with no excitement stage at all. There are several reasons that you may not feel excitement at all, or for very long.
Remember, when you went abroad initially:. You wanted to go. You expected and looked forward to learning about different things. You were warned to expect culture shock. Though you may have been sad to leave family and friends, you knew it would not be forever — you knew you were coming back. You may not want to come home. You may expect things to be just like they were when you left or at least that things will be very familiar 3.
If reverse culture shock is so unpleasant, why not try to avoid it? Because it is impossible if your exchange year was successful. In fact, the extent to which you immersed yourself in your host culture, and truly adapted, is probably the best indicator of how much reverse culture shock you will experience.
If your exchange year was a success, you have changed in ways that you probably cannot describe, or completely understand yet. You have become a skilled world traveler. You are a skilled bicultural person. You can actually get along quite well, not just be a tourist, in another culture. You will find yourself thinking or dreaming in your new language.
You will try to explain something to someone back home and not be able to give a precise translation of what you are talking about. You may be very proud of your independence, self confidence and internationalism. But they may see you as self absorbed, critical of everything and not interested in fitting in. Remember that those around you may have changed as well, if not in the same ways you have. If you are expecting things to be the same, you will have more of a shock than if you are looking for changes. Your friends have had a year of growing and maturing, and your family situation may have changed deaths, divorces, moves, job changes.
You missed some important events in their lives, just as they missed some important ones in yours. Though you may love your native country more than ever, you are also much more likely to be critical of it, and question common cultural practices that you took for granted before you left. The single best thing you can do is to anticipate and accept that you will experience some degree of reverse culture shock. The worst thing you can do is to deny it, or try to avoid it. People often try to deny it because they think there might be something wrong with them if they admit it.
It is, in fact, very normal, and you will have more problems than necessary if you try to deny it. More than anticipating and accepting reverse culture shock, you can actually view it as a positive, if sometimes painful, growth experience. It is, and can be, the completion of the circle of change in an intercultural experience.
I like to think of it as the third year of your exchange. The first was the year preparing to go abroad. The second was the actual exchange.
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The third is the year when you can more completely appreciate the changes you have made, the readjustment to your native culture, and the fact that you will be bicultural for the rest of your life. In subsequent years you will have times when you re-experience reverse culture shock, and when you feel like you just got home again; but it will never be as shocking an experience as that first year back. You can also help yourself by talking about your feelings as often as you can.
You may wear out lots of initially sympathetic ears doing this. You may notice that you seem to have an almost incessant need to talk about your experiences.
My year as a foreign exchange student in the US, Common Application / own topic
Your friends, especially, may get impatient with you, so you may need to learn to be selective with whom you share your experiences. The experience is over, but not the memories and the impact on your life. You can tell how this feeling lingers when exchange students, Peace Corps Volunteers or missionaries start talking about their experiences, even if many years ago. Sometimes they are the only ones who will politely listen as you tell a story for the hundredth time. Open Document. Click the button above to view the complete essay, speech, term paper, or research paper.
An Exchange Student at 17
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Exchange Student Essay
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