Tag Archives: reverse culture shock

Back in the Homeland: Both of Us Different?

“Ta…” I responded to my sister when she told me we would go grab lunch. The word is a response Brazilians say after agreeing with somebody – in full it’s ‘esta,’ meaning alright. I’ve been repeatedly saying it over the past weeks along with others, yet that’s not the only thing. I genuinely miss Brazil. I’ve really been readjusting back to life in California. I didn’t originally believe in reverse culture shock, but I adamantly admit it now. The feeling of remembering the country and the lifestyle, from the beaches to the acai.

When I first arrived in Brazil last year I felt homesick not weeks after my arrival, but months. It took me a good few months to adjust to my new lifestyle there in Rio, with new friends from town and foreigners. Now here in Los Angeles the same is true. The food is not the same as in Brazil, my routine is totally different, I am now driving after one year of busing, and am reconnecting with old friends and especially making new ones. Also, I missed In-N-Out.

I’m also back living at home, home, not in Davis where I was a student, but with my family in Los Angeles and searching for jobs – that has been an experience. The study abroad program was my last project I completed during my undergraduate career. I therefore came directly to my hometown in Los Angeles and haven’t been in Davis for a long time. I’m currently working part-time and hoping to find an internship while I continue my search for a career job in Los Angeles or Washington D.C. I’ve got to add that it has been very difficult finding a job but the experience in Brazil most pointedly stands out during job interviews. I’m now trilingual and can confidently speak of my fluency in Portuguese.

Moreover, I learned this sort of awareness about American materialism and values and certain attitudes. Now a 300ml soda drink is more than enough for me, for example – I did tell some about 7-Eleven’s massive Big Gulp cups. I’m also much more direct and open now than when I left, which is difficult to grasp because Brazilians are often known to foreigners as very laid back and relaxed. There’s plenty of stress now given the job hunt, but its healthy stress after a year of exploring and been adventurous in a foreign country and not really knowing anybody.

Home is also different. I’m back but busy and not in my most recent home, Davis. The city of Davis had been my home for a very long time now. Friends I saw regularly are far and away, with some in a different country altogether. I’m back in my family home, not in the new home I made where new and fond relationships were created. Plus, the country too has changed. Values and traditions seem upside-down, with old ideas at the forefront of political debates. The homeland has changed, my home has changed, I have changed, yet for the better we will only know tomorrow.

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Filed under Ricardo in Brazil

Miss You Greece, Be Back Soon!

I’m home. It feels strange to call any place other than my little apartment in Athens home now, but this is it. Coming back home has been difficult, more so than adjusting to my home abroad was. Little things like going to the store and not bagging my own groceries, the severe lack of Greek food, and inability to walk anywhere I need to go serve as a constant reminder of how different my life was abroad. I miss walking to Kekko’s each morning to get my coffee, stumbling upon ruins throughout the city and speaking Greek to anyone and everyone in my general area. I didn’t realize how much I had come to love the culture and people I’d come to know until this point. Needless to say, I’m experiencing a heavy dose of reverse culture shock that for some reason I didn’t think would affect me. I think what makes leaving more difficult though is the uncertainty of it all. Here, back home with my family and friends I’ve known for years, I was sure to return. Leaving Greece though, a country that I’d come to love and appreciate immeasurably, I can’t be sure that I will go back. In a sense that makes it far more special that I had been able to experience such a way of life at all, but also far more heart breaking.

When I first got back, readjusting was overwhelming. As time goes on though, I’m incorporating some of the things I enjoyed in Greece into my daily routine. The last time I went out to eat with my family, we dined together taverna style, sharing different appetizers and main courses among the table, and they really enjoyed it. They, like I had, realized that eating in that way allows you to taste a variety of foods rather than just one, wastes less food (someone will want to finish what you won’t) and is noticeably cheaper. I’ve continued my Greek lessons on my own and hope to make it my third language so that when I do return, which I plan on doing in the next year, I can speak in entire conversations with everyone I come across. For now, I’ll be working as the student coordinator of an organization that I love, the Democracy Project, and returning to tutoring my students. I know I’ll continue to miss Greece and the many friends I made there, but I’m also very grateful to be home with my family and friends from home. Senior year is sure to fly by between two senior theses, law school applications, and working, and before long hopefully I’ll be visiting my favorite city again. Until then, I feel incredibly blessed to have had this experience, and grateful to Gilman for making it possible. Until next time, Θα είμαι πίσω σύντομα, Ελλάδα

 

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Filed under Destiny in Greece, Western Europe

Farewell and Reflection

Saying goodbye to all of the friends that I made in Paris was very hard for me. They were the people who I had grown close to throughout my time abroad, so there were lots of tears. We all promised to keep in touch and that this would not be the last time we would see each other. It was hard to say goodbye to Paris as well. I had the best experience of my life. On my last day, I decided to walk around the neighborhood and listen to music. I wanted to absorb the beauty of Paris for the last time.

My friend Sofia from my program, AIFS

My friend Sofia from my program, AIFS

Upon arriving back in the United States, I found myself still speaking French. For example, at the airport I would say “merci” and “pardon” instead of “thank you” and “excuse me.” I remember my mother asking me a question and I replied “ouais,” which means “yeah.” It felt surreal being at home. Just yesterday I was walking around Paris and eating at a café with friends. I love my hometown, Chicago, but I miss the architecture of Paris so much. I miss being able to step outside and be less than five minutes away from a boulangerie. However, I was so excited to eat Chicago pizza again. It’s what we’re famous for. I was happy to be able to find exactly what I was looking for at the grocery store. And of course, I was happy to see my friends and family again.

The Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower

Studying abroad has been such a life changing experience for me. At first, I planned on going to graduate school and earning my Ph.D. in Chicago. Now, I think I want to earn a degree abroad or at least in another city. There’s so much to see around the world and I want to try to experience it all. I want to be a global citizen. For now, I will continue my study of the French language so that I can become fluent and plan for my summer visit to Paris!

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Filed under Christina in Paris, Western Europe

To Istanbul and Beyond

When I first arrived in Turkey, everything was very new and strange. However, all of that was expected because I was in a place I had never been. When I got back to the U.S., everything was strange, but since I have lived here my whole life I never expected it to be. I thought I would come back and I wouldn’t even think about it.

Obviously that was not the case. Of course I heard English everywhere, but I also heard English quite often in Turkey. The thing was all the American accents. The first day I was back I went to the mall in town and I heard American accents everywhere. I think I did a double take every time an American accent was in listening distance. I think my mind still thought I was walking around one of the massive malls in Istanbul.

Another thing that took me a while to get used to when I got back to the states were the flushes on toilets. The first time I had to flush a toilet it took me about thirty seconds because I could not locate the lever to actually flush it. Don’t worry, I am managing just fine now.

One of my favorite things about Turkey is the many different lifestyles you can experience. There are cities like Istanbul and Izmir that are busy, modern metropolises, and then there are very small, nearly self-sufficient villages. It is extremely interesting to visit both of these in the same day because then you can really see the contrast. On the other hand. the U.S. is completely modernized in that sense.

Something else that is different between the States and Turkey is the traffic. Turkish drivers are the best drivers and the worst drivers all at the same time. Their precision is near perfect, but that is only because they refuse to use the painted lines and end up coming centimeters close to the next car. When I was driving home from the airport in the U.S., the first thing I noticed was the amount of space there was between cars. Now, don’t get me wrong, it is exhilarating riding in a Turkish cab and it is going to be kind of boring not having to worry about my well-being. However, it is also nice not having to worry about my well being.

Since I have been back I have been asked, “What will/do you miss the most?” about fifteen times. That question is almost impossible to tackle. The first and foremost will be the amazing people I met while abroad. I met people that I hope to never grow apart from, which will be a challenge being that almost none of us share a home country. Another obvious thing I am going to miss is all the amazing Turkish food, especially breakfast food. Turkish people know how to do breakfast better than most. There was never any bacon, but they more than make up for it.

One of the things I am glad to have back now that I am in the U.S. are usable sidewalks everywhere. There were definitely sidewalks in Istanbul, but they didn’t always reach my apartment. There are extremely narrow streets in Istanbul that not only cars, but garbage trucks have to share with people. I have had many run-ins with different vehicles while walking home.

Like I said in one of my previous posts, I have become quite confused about my future, but in a good way. I want to seek out all the goals I had when I left, I just might want to push those goals back a couple of years to pursue other goals that came up this past year. I got the experience to teach English as a second language while I was abroad, and I may want to experience that. To be honest, I have no idea what I want to do right after graduation, and I am okay with that as long as it involves some kind of world experience.

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Filed under Western Europe, Zachary in Turkey

Reverse Culture Shock

Reverse culture shock is a phenomenon I hardly believed was real when I set off for my study abroad. I could understand the waves of shock I felt as I studied in Thailand and half expected them before the plane even landed. After months I could feel the culture shock lessening and eventually it was relatively absent in my day-to-day life abroad. Two weeks have passed since I’ve returned home and I can say with absolute certainty: Reverse culture shock is real.

Not only is this strange type of culture shock real, it’s far worse than anything I experienced during my 10 months in Thailand. In the few weeks I’ve been home, I’ve found myself thrown into a sea of confusion, anxiety, and frustration.

My lifestyle in Asia was so scarily different from the average American lifestyle that for the first week I was actually anxious about a lot of things. Thailand is notable as a land of laid back attitudes and ‘Thai Time’ is a very real thing that I’ve gotten used to—patiently waiting an hour for a friend or even a teacher is commonplace in Thailand. America, in contrast, is so avidly impatient that I found myself anxious and confused at how quickly people raise their voice or get angry at the slightest inconvenience. This—paired with the general lack of politeness in the workplace—has made my first week back to work one of constant anxiety.

Of course, there are a mountain of things I missed while abroad that I’m happy to have back. Among other things, the wealth of creature comforts like reliable internet access, the ability to converse with anyone at ease, and more dependable transportation have been on my list of missed things. But of them all, my friends and family are definitively what I’m most happy about now that I’m home.

Looking forward, my time abroad has given me opportunities I want to expand upon in the future. I hope to be able to spread awareness of the positive aspects of studying, even for a short time, in another country and the educational advantages it serves. After college I wish to work internationally in Asia and continue my education beyond my home country. In a way, I believe studying abroad has opened my eyes to how integral an international outlook is in the modern era and I hope to be able to bring this to the table in my future work experiences. Ultimately, studying abroad has driven my need to grow as an individual and to help people internationally.

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Filed under Culture Shock, Doug in Thailand, South & Central Asia