Returning home after an extended trip abroad can be a very challenging experience. As someone who has experienced it more than once I can guarantee that reverse culture shock messes you up more than anyone wants to admit and can make recent-study-abroaders edgy and annoying.
Most of my friends studied abroad so we didn’t really have the luxury of acting like jack-asses (no one would have tolerated that sort of behavior); but not every group of friends is so lucky. Here’s a list of some of the most unacceptable recent-study-abroader behavior. If you feel yourself starting to lose control just think about how annoying all those questions from your friends were and try and have some compassion.
Start every sentence with “when I was overseas…” Seriously, just don’t. It’s difficult because you spent a lot of time away and at first all of your stories will be from while you were gone, but seriously, it sounds more obnoxious than you can even imagine and will make your friends feel awkward and left out.
Adamantly proclaim that you don’t understand what your friends are talking about because “it must have to do with something that happened while I was overseas.” This is also challenging because sometimes you really won’t know what people are talking about. They’ll forget that you weren’t actually in attendance at a certain party and you’ll get defensive. Do your best to keep this gut reaction in check and just move one. Some things you’ll understand and some things you won’t, just deal with it.
“Accidentally” use words from your host language instead of your home language because “it’s just so weird to use English all the time now.” Sometimes, particularly in the first couple of days and weeks, you will make language mistakes and that’s totally fine. It’s keeping up these “mistakes” for the rest of your life that’ll make your friends go running for the hills.
Take up smoking because “everyone is really so much more relaxed about it outside of the US.” If you didn’t smoke before, don’t smoke now. In fact, just don’t smoke no matter what. Smoking is lame and will kill you even if you picked it up while wandering the globe, “only smoke French cigarettes,” or only do it around your study abroad friends. Seriously.
“Forget” how to handle yourself at a diner and be “appalled” at the idea that anyone would want to take their coffee to go. Some customs are weird, some are wasteful, and some are totally fine to abandon as you learn more about yourself and the world around you. This new understanding doesn’t give you the right to be obnoxious in public.
Add extra letters to words (e.g. spelling program “programme”) because you “just got so used to seeing it that way.” Really? Is that 4 month stint in London really overriding 20 years in the United States and that spelling test from the 2nd grade? Really?
Give people “worldly” advice they didn’t ask for. Damn, some habits are just really hard to shake I guess. Good Luck!