Monday, 3 October 2011

Reverse Culture Shock and Third Culture Kids

I found this video on a blog post on the website Abroad Effect. The website is about "Going Abroad. Coming Home changed". So it's all about culture shock.

Click on the link and watch this short video called "A Meditation on Reverse Culture Shock" by Smitha Prasadh: It's really worth watching. I was impressed. She choose this topic because she had just experienced it after living in Japan for 2 years and she was doing her thesis on this topic.

I'm still wondering whether third culture kids who have always lived outside of their passport country can experience a reverse culture shock too on going (back) to their passport country. Would you call it a culture shock or do you call it a reverse culture shock? Tina Quick calls it "transition shock". Well I certainly had a "transition shock" coming from Zimbabwe going to the Netherlands to study at 19 years of age.

On the website International Family Transitions you can read more about culture shock and what it is.

What will the culture shock be like in the country we are going to?
Read my Dutch posts on this subject:

Christy Childers, a third culture kid (TCK) has just recently moved to England and on her blog she has started a series of posts on 31 days of culture shock. So even we third culture kids can still experience culture shock!

What's your experience with culture shock or with reverse culture shock? Do you have advice for people experiencing culture shock? Please share it.


  1. Great post. Hmm, I like the phrase "transition shock". I think she got it right with TCKs/ATCKs.
    Advise? I think just be fluid and know that things are going to be different in different countries (and sometimes different parts of different countries). Also, give yourself grace. There are days that I just say, "Well today is just a bad (fill in country name) day." It's not that the country is bad, just I'm not dealing well with it that day. The next day is usually a bit better...

  2. Thanks for your comment. I think it is good to take it a day at the time.
    Maybe advice for third culture kids (TCKs) returning to their passport country would be try to find other kids in the same situation. It's not you that is strange but your feelings have everything to do with the life experiences you have had. Parents try to keep "talking" with your kids in times of transition. Just so you have an idea how they are doing. The transitions are a challenge for all the family.

  3. TCK, global nomad, and a host of other terms are all words used by 'others' to describe us. I wonder what we would have chosen to describe ourselves.

    At age 58, the 'culture shock', 'transition shock', whatever you want to call it; has not worn off. Why is that? Because we are 'other' to them. If that were not true none of these words would exist.

    We will never fit into any single culture, we can't without giving up one of our most defining features. Namely, the act of having grown up in a culture other than our parents'.

    This separates us from everyone, even our parents. To bridge that gulf we have to give up something, and that something is precious. Our parents would be shocked to learn that they would have to give up their notions of cultural identity in order to reach us. Yet we cannot, must not, deny our entire childhood.

    38 years later I have still not integrated and I probably never will.

  4. Thanks for being so "open" and sharing this. I do agree that there is a real challenge here. I firmly believe there is a difference between third culture adults (TCA) and third culture kids (TCKs). If as kid you grow up in another culture (like we both did) you are still developing your identity. If you live abroad as an adult your are in a different phase of identity. Yes my childhood experiences have formed me too. Do we really need to integrate? I want deal with the challenges but take advantage of the positive aspects too.