Coming home after travelling can be weirdly jarring. There are all these things you’ve become used to while you were away, and now you’re back, you just can’t return to the swing of things. You might even suffer from reverse culture shock.
The longest I’ve ever been away in one go is six months but I’ve been travelling for two and a half years now. Here are just a few of the things I find it strange to adapt to whenever I get back from a stint away.
Leaving your toiletries in the bathroom
A gap year of paranoia, of not leaving your stuff in the bathroom for fear someone would steal it (or use it) will catch up with you. I still find it hard to leave my toothbrush in my parents’ bathroom. Even if I tell myself I can leave it there I still find myself bringing it back to my room.
Not trying to work out the conversion rate
I can’t make a purchase now without wondering how much said item would be in pounds, even if the item already is in pounds. It’s always a disappointment when I realise I don’t have to divide it by two and the price I see is the price I’m going to be paying.
Not having to work out the time in England
Looking at the clock and trying to work out if it’s a socially acceptable time to call your parents is no more.
Do you need to add or take away a few hours? Neither, you’re in England. The time is what the time is.
Being able to plug in your technology
Scrambling around trying to find an adaptor for your iPhone charger, only to realise you’ve left it in the plug socket in the last hostel is not fun. Why can’t the world have the same hole formation in its power points?
You’re going to have to get used to just being able to plug your device in straight up. It’ll feel weird at first, but so, so good.
Understanding what everyone around you is saying
Being able to understand all the conversations around you when you get home can be quite overwhelming. And fascinating. You’ve spent all these months or years not having a clue what’s going on other than please and thank you, and now you can make out fully-fledged discussions. Remember though, those people you’re listening in on can understand your chats too; you need to watch what you’re saying now.
Seeing people you’ve known for ages, but don’t actually know
When you’re travelling, unless you’ve gone with someone, chances are you don’t actually know anyone you meet for longer than a few months. But the thing is, once you travel together you get to know each other so quickly. Sometimes even better than those people you’ve grown up with.
With more time to talk, more experiences shared and just more time to hang out you might even like your new friends better than the old. Careful how you handle that one when you get back.
Seeing all the familiar High Street stores
You’ve been shopping in 7/11s and night markets for months. Getting back to the boring generic supermarkets and shopping centres of the UK may be great at first, but trust me, the novelty of Topshop and River Island will soon wear off. Especially when you see the prices.
Having a rough idea of where you’re going
When you’re travelling, you’ve got no concept of where you should be going or what’s happening, and the feeling can be liberating. Then you come back home and the familiarity slaps you in the face. Hard.
The monotony of your surroundings and the feeling that nothing has changed since you left can definitely put you in some sort of post gap year depression, but this is life. Enjoy being able to get to your destination without having to decipher a road sign.
Not having to live out of your backpack
Having somewhere to put your stuff rather than upending your backpack every time you need ‘that top’ is a dream. This is definitely a reverse culture shock from travelling to enjoy.
Having a shelf and a drawer to call your own might not sound like much if you haven’t travelled extensively, but trust me, after all that time, being able to find the top you want in less than five minutes and without trashing everything you own will mean the world.
You know us Brits don’t exactly have the best reputation worldwide for our food? Sure, people love our fish and chips and Sunday roasts, but apart from that… Chances are you’ve discovered a whole world of culinary delights out there that the folks back home just don’t understand.
Once you’ve indulged in all the British faves you’ve missed while you’ve been away, you can satisfy your yearning for some tasty Asian food by showing off all your new found knowledge to your friends and family at the nearest Thai.
Managing all the plans in your head
So you planned to see the world, and when you were at school Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia were the world. But now you know about Colombia, about Argentina, Fiji, New Zealand, you’ve heard of Zanzibar – all theses places, all these potential adventures are in your head.
It’s up to you to put them into action. Don’t get sucked into life as everyone else does it – now the time is yours to steer in the way you want. The best thing about coming back from travelling is planning to go away again.
How about you? Have you come back from travelling and found it hard to fit in?