Tara is a freelance writer & videographer who has tailored her life to facilitate her greatest passion ~ travel. She believes that life is about being happy and hopes to inspire others with her blog The Traveling Waitress to follow their passions to a happy life. You can find her on Instagram (TheTravelingWaitress) and on Twitter (@travlnwaitress).
Hi Tara! I’m excited to hear your re-entry story. Where were you abroad and what did you do there?
I went to Thailand and Vietnam for two months to travel and explore. I wanted to see the ‘real’ parts of each country and not just the glossy tourists sites.
I sang with children in a small hill tribe village, explored the country side on a motorbike, volunteered and learned the religious and cultural customs.
That sounds awesome. When did the idea of re-entry get on your radar? Did you have any re-entry preparation, training or debriefing?
I didn’t even think about re-entry until I landed back at Toronto’s Pearson Airport and felt uncomfortable in my own skin for the first time.
I did not have any preparation or training, I didn’t even know that re-entry existed. It wasn’t until I had been feeling this way for a week after being back that I called me friend who had done a similar trip in a panic and asked for advice. It was then she informed me on “reverse culture shock.”
What was your re-entry experience like?
Terrible! I felt like I didn’t belong in my own life.
I realised how much “stuff” I had and went on a complete overhaul of my apartment, donating almost everything. I cut and dyed my hair in an attempt to feel like myself again. I resented my family and friends for staying the same when I had changed so much. I hated the people I was serving at the restaurant I was working at, who complained about their steak being over cooked when I had just seen children as young as six having to work to help support their families.
It was a very strange and abrassive feeling, that I didn’t understand. I wish that Small Planet Studio had been around then to help me adjust.
What do you know *now* about re-entry that you wish you’d known earlier?
That it’s a completely natural process to go through. That other people have been through it too and you will work through and come out stronger and happier because of it. That journaling helps profoundly.
Do you have any other re-entry tips?
Just feel it. Do not try to fight it. Write down what you are feeling and what you are surprised to be feeling. Talk to other people who have gone through it. Go to SmallPlanetStudio.com to connect with others and hear their insights.
My personal favourite thing to do is to start thinking about my next trip. Wether it be a epic three month adventure or a weekend in the wilderness, to starting looking at pictures and reading about where I want to go next helps me to focus.
And… just for fun: if re-entry were a food what would it be? Why?
I think that it would be different for everyone. It would be that food that is safe and comfortable, but boring and not something that you particularly crave. For me that would be grilled chicken. 🙂