How Living Abroad Redefines Friendship

I think most people who have lived abroad for many years would say that they are not the same person they were when they left their comfort zone. It is not just about getting all those stamps in your passport and seeing places most people would never get to see in their lifetime – let alone hear of (but that certainly is a bonus most of us would not want to miss).

Living abroad is more than that. This journey and adventure of living in cultures so different from what you were once used to changes you from the inside out as a person, your personality and your perceptions of life.

With this wonderful life-changing experience of living abroad, you will also encounter some “struggles” or changes upon returning to “reality”.

Reverse-Culture Shock

Reconnecting with family and friends back at home is a bigger struggle than most people might be aware of. Coming back and visiting your loved ones is great and exciting – especially the first few days. Everyone wants to know about your life overseas, your travels, people you meet, see pictures, you name it! But as soon as that first excitement is over, everything goes back to “normal” - you somehow have to reintegrate yourself back into a society and culture you left. That’s not easy!

Why? Because your views and experiences you have gained while living abroad have changed you as a person and changed how you see and perceive the society you once came from and now have to adjust to again. It does not mean that you look down on or suddenly judge your own culture, but the way you live your life, the way you see things, behave, is not the way the rest of your culture, family or friends do.

This is just the big picture. Simple things, such as your preference for food, how you eat it, how you like to add some spice to it have changed and you may not be able to eat certain foods you once ate. And that is not something you are doing intentionally, right?