Going back home after a long time abroad or away can be a rocky transition, especially if it doesn’t really feel like “home” anymore. Here’s a list of ten writing prompts to help you process the reverse culture shock.
If you happen to use any of these prompts and post the results anywhere, please include the link back to this page, and let me know! I’d love to read what comes of this, if anything, and would love to share your writing, as well!
- Write about your “home” bus station or airport like you wrote about places abroad. Describe the people you see as though you are there for the first time. Maintain your perspective as a traveller, and bring those people-watching skills home with you. Remember that most people haven’t been to this place (even if you’ve been there a thousand times).
- Write about a restaurant at home, but then add in a character from your travels abroad to the scene. Imagine how they’d interact with the situation, if they’d be eating different food, how they’d try to order, what parts of this “foreign” restaurant would confuse and frustrate them. Express your frustrations with the place through this imaginary friend.
- Write a letter to a friend (or a stranger) abroad, admitting how frustrating this whole transition is. Express to them your nostalgia and appreciation for things abroad, even things you didn’t appreciate until you left. Focus on the gratitude you have for the experience, not the pain that it’s over.
- Walk around your area at home and try to notice things which are similar, or where your “abroad” home and “home-home” might mesh together well. Write about how nicely [something] might fit into [something]. Notice how the things you miss are also present here, even if you only ever noticed them abroad.
- Write a guide to your home area, for visitors from the places you were abroad. Think about including some local history, attractions, travel tips, and cultural norms. Be serious, be funny, just write for the people you’re missing. Welcome them to your home.
- Write a short memoir piece about your first days in the place you’re missing. Reflect on what it was like, back before you knew anything about it, much less before you had to leave. Compare how it used to feel, being homesick for the place you are now, and how it feels now, being homesick for the place where you used to be homesick.
- Find somewhere you can look at your hometown from a different perspective. Can you get on the roof somewhere? Write about what you see from somewhere different, like it’s an entirely new place.
- Try and make your favourite food from abroad. Write about how you struggled to find the specific foreign ingredients, and what you replaced them with. Write about cooking it in an entirely different kitchen. Write about the taste, the experience, and how it felt to close your eyes and for a moment be transported back to where you’re missing.
- Write about your reverse culture shock as though you are experiencing the stages of grief. Perhaps write a journal where each stage is one day. Write through that process, and allow yourself all the emotions. Document the roller coaster.
- Write a letter to someone from abroad, someone you’re missing. Convince them that you’re doing great, back home. Tell them how lovely it is, and how (while you definitely miss them), there are so many things happening “here” that everything is as it’s meant to be. Write this letter until you convince yourself it’s true. Be excited about where you are.
Happy writing, and don’t forget to comment/get in touch if you write something based on one of these prompts! I would love to read and share it.
Want more travel writing prompts? Check out my list of 10 Travel Writing Prompts (To Find Grounding in Overwhelming Foreign-ness).