I can’t believe it’s been a month and a half since I moved back to America.

I definitely experienced culture shock in China. But reverse culture shock is a real thing, too. I experienced reverse culture shock when I moved home after six months in New Zealand, but that was nothing compared to what I’ve undergone since returning from China.

Suddenly, everything in your home town looks strange. Why is everything so spread out in America? And what’s up with the clothes we wear?

It’s also easy to feel depressed or anxious when moving back home. A huge, exciting life experience has now come to an end. It’s like the day after Christmas.

The thing that freaked me out the most this time around was my body’s reactions to everything. Jet lag was worse than usual. Foods affected my body differently.

No matter where you’ve been or what part of America you’re going home to, here are a few ways to deal with easing back to life in the USA.

More blog posts about moving:

How to Start Over in a New City

How Will I Stay Involved in the Travel Community?

Moving to China? 5 Things to Buy Beforehand

call your friends

1. Call Your Friends

Yes, moving home can feel depressing. Especially if you haven’t lined up a job or any kind of plan yet. All you have to do is lie on your parents’ couch for the day.

Reach out to your friends. Don’t wait on them to call you first.

Simply being around others can be a way to fight off that sadness. Catching up will also make you feel more connected to your loved ones who have stayed home while you were gone.

On the other hand, don’t be afraid to set aside some time for yourself. It’s easy to get bogged down by too many social events and feel exhausted rather than refreshed.

2. Set a Routine

Even if you don’t have a job yet, try to establish a routine.

Your body will be exhausted for a while. My first week back in America, I couldn’t stay awake for more than three hours at a time, no matter what time of day it was! But adjusting to a schedule can help fight the constant sleepiness that comes with jet lag.

Beware, jet lag applies to more than just your new funky sleeping patterns. Even after I got back to a normal sleeping pattern, my body has just generally been more fatigued. I have less energy than I normally would. Little things, such as going for a jog or staying focused at work, feel so much more difficult than they used to.

Now that I’ve been living in the same city for a couple weeks, I’m hoping my new schedule will help me get over this exhaustion.

3. Ease Out of Jet Lag

Speaking of jet lag …

Like heartbreak, there are many theories about how long it should take you to get over jetlag.

The one I’ve heard a lot recently is that it takes the number of days per hours time difference. China is 12 hours ahead of Atlanta, so it would take me around 12 days to adjust.

I actually found that pretty spot-on this time around. So if you’re not back to your regular sleeping schedule in a few days, don’t get too down on yourself!

food in america

4. Ease Back Into Your Favorite American Foods

Man, I love cheese.

(Actually, I recently found out I’m lactose intolerant. Which pretty much wipes out every kind of food I love!)

In China, dairy is very rare. I can’t recall eating cheese even one time that I was there.

As a result, I was PUMPED to down a ton of cheese cubes as soon as my plane landed on American soil! So was my older brother, who had also spent months in China. He was too excited.

A few days after The Husband, my brother, and I arrived back in America, we attended our grandmother’s funeral. At the reception, there was a ton of cheese. I had a few slices, but my brother went ham on some cheese! He then spent the next 12 hours feeling pretty miserable.

His body wasn’t ready for all that cheese.

It can be that way with a lot of foods. Instead of gorging yourself on your favorite foods, try them a little bit at a time and see how your stomach adjusts. Or you’ll spend most of your first few days home in the bathroom.

5. Get Your Amenities

You’ll need a lot of stuff when you get back. A new SIM card and phone plan. Various types of insurance. Toiletries.

You may have had insurance and phone plans before you left to move abroad, but those deals have probably expired or been cancelled by now.

Try to get all of this done in the first week or so of being home, or you’ll put it off for way too long. And procrastinating will just make your life more difficult.


6. Relax

That’s right. Give yourself permission to relax. Travel is tiring.

7. Stay Involved in the Travel Community

When you get home, you may feel isolated because you’ve had these life experiences none of your loved ones can identify with. You may also have a bit of an identity crisis. (I did both times I moved home from abroad.)

Connecting with fellow travelers can help ease the pain and fill the hole traveling has left inside you. Try being a couchsurfing host or planning a small trip with friends.



2 thoughts on “Ease Back Into Life in America

  1. I’m curious what you did with your belongings while you were abroad or maybe you didn’t have many. My wife and I have lived abroad in Taiwan and now in Portugal and I have found it a great experience. Anytime I go back to America I go straight for pizza, Mexican food, and BBQ.

    1. At one point in my life, I didn’t have many belongings. But when we moved to China RIGHT after our wedding, a lot of people had graciously given us wedding presents, so we suddenly had a ton of stuff! In that case, we were lucky enough to have relatives who let us store things at their houses. And for some reason, every time I come back to America, I go straight for Popeye’s! I rarely eat it when I live here, but for some reason I crave it when I’m gone.

Comments are closed.