Happy Holidays, Reverse Culture Shock style

Hi there! It’s the holidays!

If normally a high percentage of people could kill me with their looks right now, Reverse Culture Shock sufferers would certainly beat me to a pulp. I can perfectly understand that this year you might no be very excited about the holiday season, and rightfully so! You might be wishing you could be at your host country celebrating with your loved ones from there, and now, back “home” you could be feeling quite out of place. After all, people spend obnoxious amounts of money and eat unhealthy amounts of food, shoppers cram the streets and horrid music drills your ears.

You are not alone my RCS friend, please know that it is totally fine and normal. However I still very, very, very much want you to have a good end of the year with your home country, your family and friends, especially if your re-landing was rough, and that’s why I am posting about how you can do it. Unbelievably it can actually be done! Here are some ideas:

1) If you are missing the traditions from your host country, do them at home yourself! Contact an expat group from your host country and make sure you celebrate their way with them. So what if the neighbors look at you in amazement because you are doing things differently? This year you get to do it your own funky way. Yeah, you are cool like that.

2) Cook a typical festive dish or a whole meal from your host country and have everybody taste it. You can do the thing the way it is done abroad or tweak it a bit to mesh the ingredients and backgrounds of the foods into your own culinary creation. You can have turkey curry, or candied durian or lychees, a different version of panettone.

3) Share a tradition or a typical holiday story with your special ones back home. Explain beforehand that this is important to you and that you expect some attention towards your way of seeing the holiday season so they don’t crush you with a culturally insensitive question or comment.

4) Mix your celebration cultural background and your holiday plans. In other words, they are YOUR holidays, pick what you like from whatever cultures and countries you choose and have them ways that make sense and are special to you! Some ideas:

– Organize a Festival of Ligths (Diwali) mixed with a Saint Lucy celebration or an end of the year glow stick party.

– Plant a Christmas tree in the middle of the beach and decorate it with typical winter sweets from your host country.

– Make a gingerbread pagoda, igloo or skyscrapper, whatever type of building you miss.

– Eat 12 olives, raspberries or pieces of durian instead of the traditional 12 Spanish grapes to greet the New Year.

The possibilities are endless! Overall be brave and patient, it WILL make you feel better to have your own way of celebrating integrated into everybody’s and bringing something cool into your home country celebrations instead of just feeling like a goose who’s being force-fed everybody else’s holidays.  You are back, you don’t have to do what everybody else is doing, as a matter of fact we want to see what you are doing these days, SEND YOUR IDEAS AND PHOTOS and we will SHARE them with other repatriates on the blog so that we all can have a very happy holiday season!

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For those around you, send them this video so they can understand you better

Today’s post is for the people who surround you, your family, your friends, your coworkers, bosses or just people around you because they are also Reverse Culture Shock sufferers in the sense that they see that you have changed and they are a bit confused about it too. They may be a little surprised about how you are acting on those days in which everything is new and strange back home, so send this video to them. Let them know that if we have a support group is because although going back home seems easy, it sometimes is not, and that you are trying hard, using resources to get “back to normal” while integrating 2 or more cultures in you so that you can function properly. This is a re-adjustment period for you and for them too, it takes some time and we all could benefit from a little understanding from those around you. They are also sort of going through some shock because they have not seen you in a while and although you don’t notice it in you that much, you have changed. So please be understanding towards them too, they have not seen or lived what you have and they just want you to feel at home again.

General resources for expats

Just because you are going home it doesn’t mean you have to function the way you used to there a while back. You have changed and acquired different needs and wants, and trying to fly with what you used before might not make the cut you are looking for these days. So what do you do?

Most likely there are some expats from your host country or from other countries at your home city or area. These people have already adapted there to a certain extent, and have probably used services and products and have their opinions formed about them, so get in touch with them and ask them about the resources they use for everything you might need or want, and their reviews to see if they would make a good fit for what you are looking for.

From finding a new job to getting imported groceries or goods, expats in your city have a wealth of information that you can benefit from, and many are really eager to help you. They can hook you up with sports clubs, women’s associations, established playgroups for children…Tap into their field knowledge of the area to save time and resources finding what you want and profit from their experiences as users or consumers.

Considering yourself an expat (even though you are technically “from there”) can significantly help you ease back home when it comes to logistics and settling, getting things organized and set for you to re-start your life. Your local friends and family can be of great help assisting you with information, but unless they are expats themselves, the type of information they can offer is probably mostly “local” information, which is great and necessary as well for you to successfully re-adapt. Try to mesh these two type of information and groups, the expats and the locals, in order to create an environment that suits your needs and wants in order to make a much smoother transition for yourself.

Don’t forget all the resources that you used when you lived abroad, there are plenty of great companies that can make your life easier back home just like they did outside of your home country. If you used Cragislist.org or similar ones, or got help from the Chamber of Commerce or from business groups or Meetup.com groups abroad, don’t stop just because you are home! These resources also exist back home and you can take advantage of them like another expat, like Expatexpress or check out this fantastic list that ExpatsUnite put together. A good place to start even before you go back is Sharon Gilor’s specific and complete relocation guide. Google the name of your city + expats or expats services or expat products and see what comes up. Also, don’t forget to email me the best resources you know of so I can put up here your personal recomnendations in the blog and other expats can use them! Thank you!

Why a website about Reverse Culture Shock?

Welcome back home!

If you are at this website you probably know by personal experience that Reverse Culture Shock SUCKS!! It does, a lot, actually. But hey, you have come to the right place, a supportive environment to all returnee expats that are experiencing different RCS symptoms. It doesn’t matter what your case looks like, we got resources and ideas for you to make your life easier and make you feel better.

Please email me all your concerns, questions and ideas at howtosurvivercs@gmail.com, I want to serve you by addressing these issues and finding solutions to them, together. Feel free to check out our many  videos and stories from fellow returnee expats. I hope you find this place useful in your own re-adjusting process and that it helps you put together a plan that works for you in your re-adaptation process. Don’t forget to come back often for updates and more useful resources as well as moral support from our community!

Supportively and understandingly,

Elena