This weird phenomenon sounded like some sort of metropolitan myth, until it actually happened to me.
And I honestly don’t exactly know why I’m using the past tense here – I’ve been back in Italy for almost three weeks and I’m still in the process of realising it.
When I announced to my friends both in Spain and in Italy that I was coming back for way longer than five days, at first they thought I was joking. And how could I blame them? I would have felt the same way – Italy was absolutely not in my plans.
In order to prepare myself, I started reading, watching and listening about former expats and Erasmus students.
Among al the vacationers who were more than excited to be back for the summer, there were those who experienced a bit more negative feelings.
Those feelings had a name: reverse culture shock.
We all have heard of the concept of cultural shock – that realization and uncomfortable start of a new experience where your culture and the culture of the country you’re in clash causing you distress and unease.
It seemed incredible to me that the opposite situation could happen – that the culture you grew up in is actually the one tht you no longer feel comfortable in.
The weirdest thing for me at the moment has been having people around me not understanding my mixed-up language,
to whom I can’t say “HOMBRE!” “BUENO”.
People who have lunch at 12:30, 13:00 sharp maximum,
and have dinner even before the sun sets.
Oh, and can we please talk about the metro?
The pain I felt the other day to go to the city centre by bus. With a time table that would be even prohibite to only propose in Madrid, and with a velocity even more unbearable.
Reverse cultural shock does exist, and I definitely wasn’t ready for it to hit me.
A couple of days ago, joking, I made a poll in my Instagram stories asking how long my freinds thought I would last in Italy.
A couple of them reminded me of how beautiful Italy is and that I should take advantage of it, but it surely is a challenge for me.
Speaking of challenges, how long do you think I will last?
Can’t wait to see who gets closer!
As for homesickness, each of us is different and needs different things.
Let me share with you what has helped me so far.
Keeping an open schedule has been incredibly helpful. I clearly have to change from my Spanish to a new Italian schedule, especially this month staying with my parents. Not forcing myself into another strict plan has helped me adapting at my own pace. I do have to share meals with them at their time, but I give myself the time I need for the rest of the day.
This is a very personal thing, and I know that a great amount of people actually prefer to have a more strict guide line to follow. I would recommend to do what feels the best for you.
Productivity is another important aspect of the adaptation process. Keeping yourself busy will give you a purpose and keep your mind distracted from other things, at least for as long as you need.
I make a daily list of things I want to get done during that day and I usually give them a priority according to what excites me the most.
Ticking the different tasks off weirdly makes everything feel better.
Why do you need to listed to your heart? Because in this moment of uncertainty and feeling a bit saturated (probably even like in prison), staying creative is a great outlet to express yourself and release some of the tension you may be holding.
I assume this is what creative people need – if you’re not, you might want to try and go for a run instead 🙂
If you have been living abroad or have never lived in the city, you might no longer have friends in the community. This is, however, a fundamental thing to do in order to feel better and again, to get distracted. Surround yourself with family and new people.
I have also been in touch with my friends in Spain through voice notes and videocalls. This has eased the transition and made me feel a bit less lost.
ENJOY WHAT YOU HAD BEEN MISSING.
As some of my friends pointed out through that instagram poll, you might be in one of the best countries ever. And even if you’re not, you now have what you had been missing abroad – your favourite childhood food, a certain dessert, a specific brand, a spot, a plant… Take advantage of it!
Can’t wait to read all your bets here below,
and do not forget to share this with all your expat friends who are moving back home.
There’s a lot of us out there.