Unsure about going back home

I have changed a lot in the last three years. I am very independent and have a lot of freedom, have many good friends and like my life here. I am feeling quite sad because I have to go back home after 3 years here. I don’t know if I will be able to live up to my family expectations, they want me to get married and look after them. I don’t know if they will understand that I have changed a lot, I worry that will miss Melbourne and all my friends, that I will not be happy at home.

Many of the things you are worried about are related to reverse culture shock. Think of the time when you came to Melbourne, the initial worries and difficulties, periods when you doubted yourself, moments when you wanted to go home. That was related to culture shock while adapting to living in Melbourne. As you have adjusted well and grown more independent it is quite normal for you to be concerned about going back home. It is good that you are thinking about adjusting to issues you might have when you go back home. All of this does not have to be negative, there will often be many positive reactions as well.

Some things to do and consider:

• Give yourself time to relax and consider what is going on around you, how you are reacting to it, and what you might change. Ease in to the transition. There will be much “catching up” to do, with, social, economic, entertainment and current events (and may also include new slang). Give yourself some time to adjust to what has changed at home since you’ve been away.

• List different issues and devise strategies and solutions, key things you need to do before going home and in the first few weeks immediately after you arrive so you don’t feel too lost.

• Just as you had to keep an open mind when first encountering the culture of a new foreign country, try to resist the impulse to make snap decisions and judgments about people and behaviors once back home. You may need to act like a ‘tourist’ just like you did when you first came to Australia.

• Showing an interest in what others have been doing while you have been on your adventure is the surest way to re-establish rapport. Be as good a listener as a talker.

• Making comparisons between cultures and nations is natural, try to see a balance of good and bad features and avoid the tendency to be an “instant expert”.

• Keep as many options open as possible. Attempting to re-socialize totally into old patterns and networks can be difficult, but remaining aloof is isolating and counterproductive. It’s good to catch up with old friends and find out how they are doing. You may need to take the first step but it will go a long way in re-establishing old connections. Make sure you also keep in touch with friends you have made here.

• Seek new support networks while re-establishing old ones. There are lots of people back home who have gone through their own re-entry and will understand your concerns. University study abroad and foreign student offices are some of the places where you can seek others who offer support and country-specific advice.

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