Thailand University Teacher Extraordinaire

The trials and tribulations of a young English teacher

Dealing With Reverse Culture shock

on Fri,Jan,2011

Today is my fifth day of my two week holiday in England, and I’m feeling rather strange. I suspected that my biggest problem would be jetlag as I crossed 7 time zones during my 15 hours of flying; however, this wasn’t to be. One long lie in was all it took for my body to adjust to British time. No, the real problem has been reverse culture shock.

From the moment I stumbled out of the airport and into my parents’ car, I’ve been struck by how strange everything is. People on the roads tend to drive sensibly, which is a frightening experience. I’m far too used to Bangkok’s chaotic roads. I was amazed that not even a single person tailgated our car during the journey home. I’ve also discovered that I’m suddenly able to understand all the conversations going on around me, which has quickly become a dull and tedious distraction. Listening to people moan about forthcoming trips to the dentist or complain about someone being voted off from reality TV show Got to Dance becomes annoying very quickly. Ignorance of similar talk in Bangkok because of fairly basic Thai language skills really has turned out to be bliss.

More troubling is the growing distance between myself and my friends. Conversation feeks awkward, and any mention I make of Thailand or travelling falls flat very quickly, save for a few sympathetic comments from a friend who came over for two weeks a couple of years ago. Strangely, my two best friends, who only really got to know each other in the last two or three years, have moved into a shared apartment together. Much has happened in the three years I’ve been away, and I feel uncomfortable to be on the periphery of a close group of friends.

So how to beat reverse culture shock? Well, this blog had some helpful advice. The first point about no-one caring about my travels feels particularly true in my situation. At the moment, I feel quite relieved that I have just over a week left before returning to Thailand.


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