If you travel, study or work abroad for a longer period of time, you may experience a culture shock. That is understandable, because you suddenly dive into a different culture with completely different habits and values. You're completely out of your comfort zone.
What skills and competences have you gained during your study abroad period?
If you travel, study or work abroad for a longer period of time, you may experience a culture shock. That is understandable, because you suddenly dive into a different culture with completely different habits and values. You're completely out of your comfort zone. This often takes some time to get used to and requires a quick lifestyle adjustment. Although this may be confusing or frustrating, it is also a valuable learning experience.
But did you also know the phenomenon of reverse culture shock? This may occur when you return to your own country or culture. As with the culture shock, you also have to get used to your home country and adapt your lifestyle. A reverse culture shock or re-entry shock with reflection on the international experience and skills gained, can deepen the learning experience. You become aware of what you have (unconsciously) learned, how you give meaning to it and how to use it in your life or in your (future) career.
Reflection to get the best out of your stay abroad period
By consciously reflecting on your international experience, the consequences of a (reverse) culture shock become insightful and that helps you to get the most out of your period abroad. That goes beyond the journey alone. For example, think about which competencies you have gained consciously or unconsciously and how you have developed yourself. You learn by becoming critically aware of unconscious assumptions, expectations and gain insight into what that does for interpretation of everything you see, hear and experience around you. This transformative learning often leads to a profound change in thinking about certain things, situations, feelings, perspectives, beliefs or behaviors. The change in consciousness may create a different way of being yourself and can have an impact on your future experiences or possibilities.
Skills and competences
For example, if you've spent a longer period of time abroad, you may have acquired a different worldview, become more independent, become more open-minded, handle difficult situations more easily, have learned to be flexible, learned to work with people from different cultures and so on. It is interesting to delve deeper into this and find out how you have developed yourself and what competencies you may have gained. The next step is to see how these fit in with a possible future position at an employer and how you incorporate it into your CV and a job interview? It may lead to your advantage!
Mezirow, J. (2009). Transformative learning theory. In J. Mezirow, and E. W. Taylor (Eds), Transformative Learning in Practise: Insights from Community.
Saltsidis-Oekas, R. (2018), A study into the reverse culture shock experience of outgoing Exchange and Grand Tour students
Saltsidis-Oekas, R. , Nicolai, N. (2019), Getting the best out of your travel and stay abroad, and how to cope with reverse-culture schock. Prepare, Reflect, Grow!