You’re home! You’re finally home! You’re so excited to see your family and friends; you may feel like you’re on the “Honeymoon High” that many au pairs experience when they first arrive in the U.S. There are lots of ‘welcome home’ parties for you, lots of visiting; you’re a celebrity…for a short time! Uh oh, no one seems to want to hear your stories about life in the U.S. for too long. You think your friends and family are bored when you talk about the life-changing experience you’ve had. They’re expecting you to return to a “normal” life and pick up where you left off, but you feel anything but “normal.”
It’s hard to explain the importance of your year in America to people who have not had the experience. You miss your friends your host family, the freedom, the excitement, and yes, the use of your very own car.
You may begin to feel anger towards everything in your home country while idealizing everything in the U.S. or depressed because the adventure is over. Are you short-tempered, argumentative, perhaps you’re isolating?
Sound familiar? This is often referrred to as “reverse culture shock” because the disorienting experience of returning home is so similar to the experience of arriving in the U.S.
Be careful! You’ll push away all the support that’s there for you if you act out your feelings. Instead, do exactly what you were encouraged to do when you arrived at orientation! Talk, talk, talk! Tell your family and friends that the transition back is difficult, but you’re doing your best to settle in. You’re fortunate in this age of social media. It’s easy to stay in touch with the friends you made here. It’s easy to continue speaking English. Skype with your host family. You’ll never lose touch as long as you want to be connected.