Culture Shock Works in Both Directions.

Culture Shock Works in Both Directions.

I have lived the life of a transient all my life having relocated no less than 27 times so far. I’ve traveled extensively, too. So in all honesty, culture shock really isn’t an issue for me… until I return to the country of my birth! 

I think it has to do with expectations. When traveling to somewhere new, be it a new country or just a distant part of a current country, one expects to be in new surroundings and expects to encounter new things. New foods, different ways to dress, changes in dialect or language, even different weather patterns; are all part of what makes the travel exciting and interesting. But whenever I return to the US after being away for a length of time, I feel like I’m experiencing it like a foreigner. 

We expect our past homes to remain stagnant. But it never does. And that is the disconnect, the culture shock. 

We expect our old stomping grounds to be as we remember them in our minds eye. Never mind that we saw them through younger and less experienced eyes. Never mind that just as we have grown and changed, so did the places and people we left behind. We expect the same stores, the same signs, even the same traffic flow; but it rarely is. Businesses come and go, painted signs turned neon and then digital, and today there are more cars than ever. Rural smells turned into Urban odors. And while we may not feel the passage of time in our daily lives, nothing brings home that progress like revisiting old hangouts and old friends and seeing the toll time has taken on them. 

When you last “went home” did you feel out of place? Did you feel like a stranger in your own hometown? Have you revisited old hangouts and had both a sense of déjà vu and a sense you are exploring uncharted territory, both at the same time? If you did, you’re not alone. I’ve felt it, too. 

Somebody should have warned us, don’t you think?

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