Post-abroad blues for the softcore traveler

For more photos from my Japan trip, check out my tumblr!

I’ve blogged quite a bit about being in Japan—but I’ve neglected to mention what happens when you come home.

Granted, I’ve never been abroad for very long. Six weeks in Germany. Five in Japan. It’s not enough time to get over the “honeymoon” phase of being abroad, to really get integrated into the culture, to be a part of it. I can’t say, then, that I experienced true reverse culture shock—where you feel disoriented in your home country, where you have trouble reconnecting with your old friends, where suddenly it’s harder to live at home than abroad. Regardless, I had a bit of a jolt when I got back from Japan:

It felt a bit weird being back at home, where I wasn’t surrounded by my fellow exchange students 24/7 and we weren’t adventuring across Japan. Instead, I was back in the suburbs. Alone again. Parents out working, sister on co-op, all my friends with summer jobs. I dealt with the sudden change as any healthy college student would:

 This wouldn’t do. My mom informed me that it was sales season, so I decided to drive out to the mall.

Also a bad idea.

Perhaps a trip to the convenience store would help.

I actually got over the post-Japan blues pretty quickly, though. I was back with my family. I could see my friends. I missed the group of kids I had traveled with—but I knew that, once I got back to school, I would see them again.

I found it to be a little rougher when I returned from Germany. There, I had lived with the best host family. I had felt welcome there. By the end of six short weeks, I already felt, well, at home. I spent the first week back in the US doing this:

And, at this point, I was going through one of those great transitions in life: going to college. But instead of packing, getting ready, being on top of things, I was just kind of…

I had to attend my college orientation, where I spent the whole weekend going

My sister even called me out on it.

How did I get over it? Well, I suddenly found myself away from home and entrenched in my first year of college, in Boston. It was kind of like being shocked out of culture shock with another culture shock. And classes. And a great deal of homework.

So my journeys into “reverse culture shock” were minor, at best. I still want to return to Germany—and Japan—but I experienced no great surprises, no great upheavals. I still enjoy living in America; if anything, I can appreciate it more. Still, I was surprised at just how down I became after returning from such short trips overseas.

The best way to deal with the post-abroad blues? You just gotta look on the bright side, really! Which is something I’ve always had trouble with—but with all this blogging about Japan, it’s something I’ve got to do.

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