Reverse Culture Shock

What is it?

Reverse culture shock is similar to the culture shock you felt when you first came to the U.S. When you first encountered American culture, values and habits, you may have felt culture shock as you became used to your life at UCSF. When you return to your home country, you may experience difficulty as you re-encounter the culture, values and habits of people at home. The difficulty adjusting back to your home culture is called ‘reverse culture shock.’


Preparing to move back to your home country

As you finish your time at UCSF, it is time to prepare to return to your home country! Returning to your home country can be as exciting and difficult as your transition to life at UCSF. By planning for departure, evaluating your expectations of your new life at home, and preparing for the emotional difficulties of the transition, you can make your return home easier. One important step in making your return home easier is by preparing for reverse culture shock.

You can prepare yourself for culture shock before you leave the U.S. by:

  • Remembering what you have accomplished during your time abroad. What specific events happened that changed your experience at UCSF? How much have you changed while away from your home country?
  • Thinking about your expectations for home. How do you think your friends and family may have changed while you were abroad? Has the political situation in your country changed? What are you looking forward to when you return home? What are you worried about when you return home?
  • Take pictures of campus, buy souvenirs, and say goodbye to your friends. You may want to give your new contact information and email address to your friends and colleagues, or invite them to follow you on social media such as through Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, or LinkedIn.


What to do when you experience reverse culture shock

If you experience reverse culture shock, there are a number of strategies you can use to help overcome the effects.

  • Talk with the friends you made at UCSF through email, letters, or social media. Frequently communicating with your friends can help with feelings of loneliness, isolation, and alienation.
  • Find, join (or create!) an international organization in your home town. Participating in an international organization will give you the chance to use the international communication skills you learned abroad. You will also be able to help any international people visiting your home country by sharing your experiences with them!
  • Find things that remind you of your life in the U.S. that you can include in your life at home, such as listening to your favorite American music or television show.
  • Do your old favorite hobby, or try a new hobby! Maintain good health through exercise and a good diet and find time to relax!
  • Use the techniques that helped you overcome culture shock when you arrived in America. What did you do to get used to life in the U.S.? Usually the same technique will work for you for reverse culture shock!



Just like culture shock when you arrived in the U.S., reverse culture shock is only temporary. Experiencing reverse culture shock is normal for international students and scholars. If you experience reverse culture shock, it means you are getting used to your new life at home! After you are used to your life at home, the effects of reverse culture shock will subside over time.



Reverse Culture Shock - U.S. Department of State

Returning Home -