Returning home after living abroad – reverse culture shock?

The state of alarm ended on the 22nd of June in Spain. This was the day when people were allowed to travel again after 3 months and we left Puertollano. Was I sad? Yes, of course! This small village with all these amazing people grew close to my heart, it was my home! We would have never had such an authentic experience in some touristic city.

In the beginning, it didn’t actually feel as if we were leaving Spain for good as we had a whole month of travelling ahead. We spent weeks travelling in Asturias and Northern Spain and then arrived to Barcelona. After that I spent another 14 days in Austria. On the way to Estonia I also popped by Poland and visited another volunteer for two days. It was just so much travelling, always changing cities, sleeping in different hotels, seeing so many different things and people in such a short period of time.

I arrived to Estonia exactly a month later on the 23rd of July. I felt exhausted and overwhelmed. I wanted a place to stay, just to put my things somewhere and not carry them around in bags. I wanted peace and silence.

However, I didn’t feel like home at all. During the first week, I felt super weird. I thought I was going to leave for another place, keep on travelling. I felt as if I was just floating in the air, being somewhere, without any relation to this place. I felt confused and uncomfortable.

I mean, I am now in my country, but so many things seem to be different. In reality it is me who has changed. I have experienced so many things, faced unexpected situations, seen breathtaking places, just lived non-stop travelling and now I am back here, here in the beginning, the place I left. It feels as if it was on hold while I was gone and right when I arrived it was resumed. Tap water tastes disgusting, eating outside is expensive, I can’t say “hello” on the streets to random people. Everyone’s passing me by, living in their own rhythm, their lives they always had and I start to remember why I left in the first place. I have to adapt to this old daily routine again.

I read on the internet that this is called the “third culture”. You are no longer fully from your home culture, neither are you from the culture of the place you lived. I guess it can be compared to someone describing being pregnant. Everyone knows what it is, but you never fully understand it unless you have been pregnant.

People are thinking you were there, now you are here, everything is back to normal. They want to meet and talk. I just feel like I need time, a lot of time. It is like a transition period. I have to adjust from such an “on the move” lifestyle to the complete opposite and not have a hard time? I didn’t leave Spain, cause I wanted to come home, I left my home in Spain, cause our program ended and due to the Covid situation it was almost impossible to find a job there, so I found one here and returned. There is nothing more to it.


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