So, its been awhile, a long while. Now that my hectic traveling lifestyle has run its course and I’m physically back at square one, it’s time to continue on with my mental growth. Sounds cheesy but bear with me.
Although my body is grounded in my hometown, my mind is elsewhere and I woke up this morning with a need to write. I’ve been back in the U.S for almost 2 months and haven’t done any written reflection.
Anyone who has taken leave from their routine life in the U.S and has returned home a year or so later, will tell you it can be a reverse culture shock that is impossible to prepare yourself for. Things may not have changed much, but I sure have.
Here’s a little insight to what I mean by that:
Television: My first time actually tuning into the tube, a friend played a special episode of “Sarah Palin’s Alaska”, for me. If the idea of a politician having a reality show isn’t crazy enough, this episode featured the one and only Kate Gosselin and her eight ticket’s to reality stardom. I sat, cringing; yet unable to peel my eyes off the disaster. Everyone and everything now has a reality show.
The Diversity: Driving into San Francisco for the first time, I couldn’t help but stare at the multicultural stew that was brewing in front of me. A bus drove by and it was filled with probably 4 different races. Amazing! This also comes with loss of feeling unique. I no longer hear how beautiful I am or how small my face is, fifteen times a day in Asia. I’m just another white girl in a sea of good looking, multicultural, girls.
Language please!: In Korea, an english speaker could talk freely without hesitation. I now realize that I cannot talk about how annoying this slow walker is and how they need to get the hell out of my way, without a string of dirty looks from an english speaking audience.
This applies to word choice as well. After having left Forever 21 to use the facilities, the greeter shouted out, “Thanks for stopping by!” With completely ignoring the fact that this is just customary, I decided to put his fears that we were leaving empty-handed, at ease. “We’ll be back, just going to use the toilet!” The look on his face simply read: TMI.
Obeying the laws: What do you mean I cannot walk around the streets with this beer in my hand? I can’t drive whatever speed I feel like? You won’t negotiate the price of this? But I’m White and foreign and rules don’t apply to me… wait, a minute.
Becoming one with nature: When someone returns to a place they haven’t seen in awhile, they may find themselves becoming a little obsessed with the beauty of the nature they used to overlook. While spending a week in San Diego, I couldn’t help but jump up and down and yelp like a tiny dog going for a walk whenever the sun began to set. I’d send text messages like “Please go look at the sunset!”, take pictures while driving on the freeway, tell everyone within earshot to “LOOK AT THE SUN!” and even update Facebook, on what I thought was the most beautiful moment of my life. With the increase of puzzled looks, and fake excitement from others, my outward enthusiasm has decreased; but not my internal. California is beautiful and I have made it a necessity to spend most of my days outside, with weather permitting.
While there are dozens of little adjustments, I am grateful to having had the experience in which makes these adjustments possible. There are worse reactions to having returned home than being socially awkward.