Culture Shock: Part Three – Returning Home.

Today, I am writing about the inevitable reality that almost all travellers face, unless they are travelling professionally that is and when they come home it’s only to say hello, and pack for the next trip. Coming home can be a serious ‘culture’ shock that is not easy to deal with, and I am facing that in less than a month. At the moment I am in a sort of holding pattern as it were here in Japan as my wife and I are living in Yokohama for a month with her family as she has some seminars that she needs to attend before we fly back to Australia in May.

The Minato Mirai area is actually really beautiful - a highlight of Yokohama
Today, Yokohama

Me, I am at home most days blogging and writing and pretty daunted by the long list of tasks that await me when I get home. Finding a job, a car and all that jazz. IF I can get a number of things sorted before I get home, then it won’t be too bad I am hoping. A place to live is sorted at least. But the whole getting back into the grind of things can be more difficult than travelling to a place and realising it’s more than you bargained for.

May - Melbourne, Australia, home at long last.
May – Melbourne, Australia, home at long last.

The first time I went solo backpacking, I came home after seven months around the world and pretty quickly fell into a bit of depression. I was working thankfully, however, I was working at night which didn’t help and I had to adjust to life back home. People seemed less interested in my trip than I had expected. Well, that’s usually the case for backpackers after a long trip. Sure you’ve had an amazing time and met people, seen things and taken a swag of photos, but back home everyone else has had work, work, life, families and reality to deal with, and it’s nice that you’re home but their lives are not going to suddenly stop because you’re back.

For me, this time it’s a little bit different because I’ve been working here for two years so it’s not like it’s been a big long holiday. I’ve had to wake before 6am and clean snow off my car and work 40+ hours a week. To be honest with this 4-6 weeks of inertia I am experiencing right now I will be desperate to start work as soon as is humanly possible.

Then there is the internal realisation that will probably happen to me this time. I’ve been away, seen amazing stuff, done stuff, and I got home and everything seems completely different. SO surreal and weird. Except, after a couple of weeks, this feeling goes into reverse, and everything appears to be the same. Friends, family – the same. Roads, places – the same. How could I go away for so long and nothing has changed at all? Woah, even television is the same? (except there’s always one new show that everyone’s watching)

It’s really quite difficult to deal with, and it’s not really true but coming home after six or more months overseas you do have a somewhat warped way of seeing what you encounter at home, it’s undeniable. And people will tell you you have changed. You’re accent has changed (I definitely now have a bit of an American twang to my accent, mostly with my ‘r’s), you’re different in ways you haven’t noticed.

It’s not that people don’t care that you’ve been away, and are now back, but living 9 to 5 takes its toll on everyone and although the first time you catch up with old friends is full of hugs and happiness, after that it’s ‘as you were’.

How about you? Have you experienced this sort of ‘reverse culture shock’ before? Comment below please!

And this is why I say ‘may the journey never end…’


PS. A little development for everyone. Yesterday I lost literally half the day working on the upcoming World Journeys Podcast. It’s coming! I am aiming to have it Itunes ready by Friday (April 17th). I have completed the first episode, it is edited. I talk to the charismatic and very interesting Michael Eastwood about living in Japan, the JET program, Aomori Prefecture here in Japan and more. Stay tuned for that please! I have it mostly sorted – I am clearly not a tech-head because it has been doing my non-tech-head in trying to work out all this stuff about uploading, bandwidth and RSS feed. But after a period of preparation, we are set to go! Watch this space!


  1. Nice post. Re-entry is difficult. I was on the road last year for almost eight months, have been back home for about six and still feel a little off balance on several levels. As you say, this time will be different that post-backpacking trip, but there will be the inevitable shock.

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