What They Don't Tell you about Coming Home
Going abroad for a while can come out as the best time of your life, you will learn a lot about other cultures, explore new countries and will meet a bunch of new and exciting people. A part of you will surely change, because travelling teaches you things for life that no school or university can do. That is why I recommend everyone to go abroad for a while, get out of your comfort zone and exceed your believed limits. But be prepared about what might happen to you, when you come home.
Every good thing comes to an end, and so does your time abroad. Sooner or later it is time to go home and with that, you will probably have to integrate yourself into your “old” life again. That sounds easy, but it certainly was not easy for me.
First of all, when you come home, you experience a reverse culture shock. You get so used to the way things are done away from home, that you will need to readjust these things to how they were done before you left. Some things might even stop making sense to you, so your routine at home will probably change. That can be a pretty big bummer in the beginning, but that will eventually stop after a while.
At the same time, you miss the country that you just left, the friends you made and all the fun memories and adventures that happened to you during your time abroad. But hey, at least you can reconnect with your friends from home while still connecting to your friends abroad via social media. And hey, at least you can relive those fun memories in your head, look at all those photos and videos you took and create new, amazing memories at home.
Try to differentiate your time abroad to your time after you have come home, both parts of your life are different and even though they are connected, they will feel different and that is okay and completely normal.
Now, let us talk about the difficult part. I mean, the points before were difficult, too, yes, but I mean the shattering part. For me, at least.
When you come home, it feels as if time was standing still and nothing has changed, while you have evolved and changed and learned and grown. It feels like you have travelled back in time to the day you left and it hits you like a setback. I don’t mean that nothing has changed, externally: People breakup, move away, get engaged, get dogs, start new jobs, and so on.. which is all very exciting and it is great to catch up on all that new. But internally, most of the people surrounding you are still the same, with the same problems, same characteristics and same opinions. Don’t get me wrong, that is completely fine, but as a person that has been away, with so many internal changes that you went through, it feels like a collision of your old and your new “life”. A collision, a crash, it basically feels everything but good. That is when the Post-Travel Depression usually comes into play.
A lot of people experience a Post-Holiday Blues for a few weeks after they have gotten back to work from a short holiday. That is very common and not what I am talking about today. I am talking about a phase where you undergo depression-like symptoms and you know exactly where it is coming from.
As I mentioned before, you will feel stuck in time and some things that made sense to you before, suddenly don’t anymore. It is possible to feel lost and empty within yourself, being tired all the time and not wanting to leave the bed or the opposite, struggling with insomnia. You feel like no one really gets you or understands you anymore and may even start to isolate yourself, you start to compare and criticise every little detail of your host culture with your culture at home, and think negatively about it. A huge part of Post-Travel Depression is feeling sad and upset all the time, feeling as if your life will never be as exciting as it was when you were away.
I know all of this sounds scary and unbearable, but don’t give up just yet, because there is hope! I gathered a few tips to help you cope with that situation and eventually get out of it:
1. If possible, take some time off after you have come home. It is very difficult to start a job or your studies immediately, so give yourself and especially your mind a break. Watch a lot of movies, eat some soul food and pamper yourself with lots of me-time.
2. Connect with people that may have dealt with the same problems. Find people that you know personally or online, that lived abroad for a while and exchange your experiences. Often you just need to talk to someone who really gets you. Maybe they will let you know on how they got out of that upsetting phase.
3. Try to find the beauty in your own backyard and go explore it. You will quickly learn to appreciate your home and maybe you will start to see the good parts of it.
4. Get out of your comfort zone again and start new hobbies and use your skills. Maybe you always dreamt about being a photographer, dancer or writer? Whatever it is, give it a try. Maybe you can use some skills that you learned abroad at your new passion project.
5. Realise that you will grow from your current situation and start to be grateful. Grateful for your time away, grateful for the growth and strength you brought home with you and grateful for the amazing future and opportunities that lay ahead of you.
6. The obvious: Plan another trip. What better way to get over your Post-Travel Depression than with planning to go out and explore again? Even the excitement of planning an upcoming trip can help you to feel happier again.
Finally I want to say that Post-Travel Depression should be taken seriously if all those symptoms above heavily apply to you and start to consume your whole life. If you can’t make it out alone, tell your closest friends and family members about it and reach out for professional help! It is super important and nothing to be ashamed of. No, even the opposite, it shows how strong of a person you are.
I hope that I could put some light on Post-Travel Depression, a topic that I never heard of before I went abroad for a while and came back home. Something that no one ever told be about and something that I wasn’t prepared for, when I went through.
@nataliexlau on Instagram
Thank you so much to Natalie for coming on and writing for us again. To go from writing a great article about Fiji on a budget to taking on a really difficult topic to write about in such a nice way, shows a great depth in writing style. Go check out her Instagram page for more Travel Inspiration and since travel isn't really a think at the moment a lovely daily vlog on her Instagram story, follow this link, nataliexlau.
Post-Travel Depression is something very serious but not something any of us really talk about. In the UK we just call Holiday Blues sometimes it is much more then that. You aren't just missing chilling out on a beach in the sun, you're missing a whole different life. I have experienced this and it is awful feel a whole part of your life is somewhere else and you will never get it back. It is especially hard now most countries are in some form of lockdown to get that escape we all crave from travel and some of you reading this may feel completely lost and overwhelmed by Post-Travel Depression but we will get through this and that side of us will be back once again.
Please feel free to reach out to us if you feel like you need someone to talk to and I am sure Natalie offers the same if you would rather to talk to her.
Thank you so much for reading guys, hope you're all keeping well.
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