Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Reverse Culture Shock
I would consider myself a very strong person, but I think part of that strength is admitting weakness when it appears. Having arrived home only two weeks ago, and been on the move ever since, submitting to weakness is a lesson I've learned all to well. The world seems to be in constant flux. One second I'll catch myself dazing out, thinking of the street I used to walk to school, and the next I'll be remembering how to lock up at work. But the most bizarre part (to an ignorant youth trying to reinvent the wheel) is the fact that everything cheesy returnee instructions say are true. You romanticize the place you were. Everything that was so unbearable while abroad, seems so glorious when you're back home. You see faces that you know are thousands of miles away, but seem to think they are walking on your campus. You return to the comfortable, the normal, the known, only to realize that what used to seem so simple, has become completely foreign. The people you know and love will support you, but after a few short comments about your experience, their attention is shot, and your once again left alone with the memories in your head, and the pictures on your hard drive. I've even caught myself day-dreaming about my flight home, and how good it felt to see the mountains again, and know my family would be at the airport waiting for me. But what gets me through the day is seeing the change in my life that marks study abroad's lasting effects. It's feeling the difference when I wake up in the morning. It's experiencing the new way of thought while making conversation. It's watching the knowledge I've gained from the other side of the world effect my daily life back home. Its seeing all these things working as one that makes me not only embrace the challenge of returning home, but be thankful to be culture shocked in my own country. Its knowing that when I lay my head down in Boulder, Colorado, that when I was doing the same thing in Rabat, Morocco, I was experiencing something so much greater then myself.