So, we have been here for three months now. Living the dream… Beach every weekend, volcanoes, waterfalls, Thursday night routines, good friends, good food, and life is all Pura Vida. It has felt like a three month vacation; three of the best months of our lives. But this question keeps coming to mind: what are we going to do when we get home? Costa Rica is all we know right now. Zapote is our home. It is easy to stress yourself out wondering how to readjust to life in America. Sure we miss our family, friends and big juicy hamburgers, but life in Costa Rica is what we are now accustomed to.
Many people worry about culture shock when they visit another country, however, not everyone is aware of reverse culture shock. I’ve decided to write some advice for myself, and anyone else who is worried about readjusting to the American way of life. It’s inevitable that we are going to miss things about Costa Rica. Whether it’s your tico family, the food, the beautiful places, or the friends you’ve made; something will be missing when we return. How can we adjust back to our old lives and remain happy? The answer is simple: just live.
You have already done the first step by making yourself aware that reverse culture shock does exist. What next? Get excited! Although you may be feeling upset, because you are leaving a wonderful experience remember: there are things to look forward to at home. Everything you missed while away you finally get to experience again. Whether it is your family, dog, friends, favorite food, or favorite beer- look forward to it.
Take your experience abroad, and bring it to the United States. Try new things! Explore parts of America you don´t normally think of when you think of “home”. Go hiking, find a beach, and make new friends. It is possible to explore, and do many different things that are new from both your experience in Costa Rica and what you normally do at home.
Another important thing is to realize that you have changed. It is very likely that much of your life, and maybe even a part of your personality have been affected by this study abroad experience. You probably have a different view of home, and most certainly a view on Costa Rica. Your mind has definitely been opened. Use this to your advantage.
Talk about your experience. This can help explain to others not only why you miss it, but it will also help you relive the experience. Sure, you will no longer be in Costa Rica, but talking about the things you’ve done will help bring your memories to life. Also, remember to keep an open mind. Studying abroad has made us open our minds to many different possibilities; we now need to use our open minds to view the beauty in the United States.
Make sure to stay in contact with your tico friends and host family! Everyone who you have met during this Costa Rican adventure can help make the transition back home easier. Many of these people will be able to relate to how you’re feeling and understand what you are going through. Keeping contact with these people is one of the best ways to help facilitate the reintegration process.
Bottom line is everything that you have learned from living abroad will not go away. Your memories will always be there. You have a new sense of independence, sense of wonder, and maybe even an eager sense to see more. You may lose your ability to take a two mil bus ride to a beach when bored, or go down to la calle for three shots of tequila for one mil, or even just chill at the orphanage with friends. You may lose the thrill of a new language, the thrill of new friends every day, and the culture of a tico family. But you will not lose yourself. You have had an experience that will last for the rest of your life.
Push the negativity aside, because the adventure has only just begun! It is now time to take this experience home and run with it. Everything we have learned, everything we have loved about Costa Rica can only make our future better. It doesn’t matter where we are Costa Rica, America, anywhere; it is all about the experience and how to make the most of it, not only for now but also for the future. Understand that readjusting to home can take some time, but it is not impossible. Now, it’s time for us to embrace this next grand adventure of life that is, home.
~ Written by Klara Owens, Social Media Journalist