Challenges of Re-entry

Many returning JETs say they no longer feel they have much common with people back home. People will inevitably ask, 'So how was Japan?' That's a difficult question. Can you encompass your entire ALT experience in a 10-second reply?

Many ALTs say even close friends and family aren't so interested in what happened 'over there'. They often say, when asked about Japan, you get half a minute into talking about it before the listener's eyes glaze over. Many listeners can't relate, even if theyf'e really close. Most people want to hear, 'It was great!' and then be done with it, while you want to share what you have been through and how you have grown.

Another point alumni warn about is that your old friends might now seem very boring! The fact that they may seem to have not changed at all can be frustrating when you have changed so much. You may feel like you have grown past them. These feelings are completely natural though and are symptomatic of re-entry shock.It's possible you might find yourself hanging out with different people and aspiring to do different things, and in doing so you may grow apart from some of the people who were your friends before you came to Japan. Then again, this may not happen at all - some people find they fit right back in with no problems. Be patient about it and take things slowly. Remember that it will take time to adapt and reintegrate.

Problems You May Face
There are many manifestations of reverse culture shock. Some ALTs might experience all of them, while others may have no problems at all:
- Boredom, inability to apply new knowledge or skills.
- Difficulty in explaining your JET life adequately in ten seconds!
- Nobody being that interested, whether you can explain it or not.
- Reverse homesickness: missing Japan.
- Relationships with your friends and family have changed.
- People see the 'wrong' changes: who they've lost, not who you've become.
- Loss of superstar status: redefining social role in new environment.
- Feelings of alienation.
- Being out of touch with current events and pop culture.
- Seeing home with critical eyes.
- Trying to revert to who you were before you left.
- Depression as a result of unemployment, or difficulty finding satisfying employment.