Return from London causes “reverse culture shock”

by Kelly Drobac

After just having returned from a semester abroad in London – I can’t thank the school enough for that opportunity – and not having been to Simpson since I left last spring, I have to admit returning was hard. All of a sudden Simpson had wireless Internet for my computer – which I’m still trying to get hooked up, my meal plan had changed and all these “new” things were thrown at me.

It is a known fact that students who return from study abroad programs have a hard time readjusting to their normal activities. Many students find that returning home after a semester or year abroad is a difficult adjustment. Coming home was more difficult than the adjustment period I first underwent when I arrived in London. It’s called “reverse culture shock,” and I definitely have experienced it and am still experiencing it. It is hard for me to readjust to American culture, which seems weird because America is my home country, but nobody really believes me when I say I’m not used to being home yet.

Nobody seemed to understand, or wanted to hear about, my experiences abroad. It seemed like no one really cared about all that I saw and experienced. Nobody seemed to care that for three months of my life I saw a different part of the world and changed as a person. My parents appeared to understand, but I found it hard to have a conversation with them about it. I had a difficult time expressing in words what I saw and did while in England and the other countries I traveled to. When I got home, I started doing things that I would normally do there. Obviously, the things I did in London, I couldn’t do at home in Minnesota.

If coming home was hard, returning to Simpson was even harder! I was thrown back into a world in which I thought I knew everyone, but I wasn’t sure if they remembered me. I had no idea who the new and first year students were, and they did not know me.

Only a few people wanted to see my pictures and the only person I really felt OK with talking to when I returned were the students who have studied abroad before and those I went to London with.

Classes on that Monday were weird. I felt like a new student on campus for the very first time. I even got asked by many people on campus if I was a transfer student. No! Of course I wasn’t a transfer student, but people sure treated me like I was.

After having been back to Simpson for a month now, I feel a little better about being here, but only because I know I will be traveling back to London in the summer.