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The notion of reverse culture shock

June 18, 2013


After spending a year living in Italy working as a nanny, it was strange to return home. I had heard a lot about “reverse culture shock”, but to me it was a foreign concept that I couldn’t quite grasp. It took me less than one week of living back in the land of the free before I had a pretty full understanding of exactly what it meant. Walking around town, I had seen people I had not seen in months, people I had not seen in years, and people I was hoping I would not ever actually have to see again. I distinctly recall every single person asking me two questions, the first being “Did you learn any Italian?” to which I replied “Un poco” (meaning a little), and the second question was “What’s it like being back home?”

At that point, I did not know how to respond. I didn’t have any particular feelings. I clearly remember feeling a disconnect between my body and soul. I knew that my physical body was at home, but I felt my soul was drifting somewhere through time and space, somewhere I couldn’t quite locate in my head or on a map. I was having a difficult time processing the weight of what I had gone through in such a short period of time, within one week leaving behind the friends and family I had in Italy to reunite with friends and family back home. It didn’t feel real, it felt like the whole year hadn’t really happened to me, as if I was watching a television show about someone else’s life. I blinked and suddenly this huge chapter of my life was finished, and I had to pick up the pen and start writing a new one. My book currently has all of these chapters and all of these bits and disjointed pieces, but the genre is more of a work in progress.

I found that the easiest way to cope with the reverse culture shock that will inevitably come with returning home from any long trip abroad is to take things in strides. Try to fit in seeing as many people as you can, and make that that time actually matter. Try to have conversations that have meaning to them, because what’s the point of small talk? It’s a waste of time. I don’t know about you, but I want to spend my life having meaningful experiences with people who want to share these moments with me. Try not to dwell too much on the past, and to live for the present and the future. Try to make sure that at the end of your life, you can smile and say that you did all that you could to make it a good one. Try to make an impact on other people’s lives, to make sure that you influence others to be objectively good people and make objectively good decisions. Try to lead a good life that you can feel proud of.

The cool thing about writing the book of life (like with most writing) you have the option to get writers block and take a break from it if you don’t like the way that it’s going. Try out a lot of different paths to see which ones you find smoother and which ones have too many mosquitoes for your liking.

VacationRoost Ambassador,

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