I’ve been back on US soil for six days now and so far I haven’t felt even one ounce of reverse culture shock. And I gotta say, I’m a little disappointed. After my experience returning to New York from Tokyo and after reading this article on Vagabondish, I was actually looking forward to it.
Reverse culture shock is a little like walking around your neighborhood at dusk. All the houses, lawn-mowers and mailboxes are exactly how you remembered them, except the edges are all a little blurry and everything that was once familiar takes on this magical, twilight-y vibe. Nothing feels quite real. It’s trippy. And freakin’ awesome.
But the only sign of reverse culture shock I’ve experienced and about the only reminder I have that I was even in Central America at all, is that I have to continually remember to flush the toilet paper (and not dispose of it in the trash). When I first arrived into the airport in Miami, I actually forgot and absentmindedly stuffed it into the small waste receptacle that’s reserved for discarding feminine hygiene products. Oops.
But besides that and the one time I slipped and muttered ‘Lo siento’ instead of ‘I’m sorry’, after I whacked a man with my hammock while I was trying to peel it off the baggage claim, I’ve found it pretty easy to readjust back again. It’s like I never left.
Maybe it’s because I wasn’t gone for very long (only four and a half months) or maybe it’s because I’ve left and returned home again so many times in the past that I’ve grown immune to it.
After all, something can only be a ‘shock’ if it’s unexpected. When your life is consistently lived between cultures and you’re forever in a state of limbo, that stage of readjustment stops being a stage and just becomes a barely noticed fact of life.