Reverse Culture Shock & Moving Forward

Everyone always says that the hardest part about going abroad is coming home.

Slowly, I’ve been getting used to being back in America.  At first, it was WEIRD.  It’s the little things about your own culture that are the oddest, the things you only notice when you’ve been away for a long time.  Used to everyone speaking different languages and a wide variety of accents, I found myself wondering why everyone sounded the same.  American accents are so bland!  Also, accustomed to the reserve of most Europeans, I found the open friendliness of Americans strange.  “Why are all of these people being so nice?” I wondered.  “I don’t even know them!”

Living in my hometown after seeing the world is also weird.  It’s wonderful, seeing people I know and visiting beloved places.  But I’m not the me that went away… and you can never truly explain to them the change.  How do I find words for the parts of you that have grown and changed or the pieces that have been left behind?

My weirdest moment of culture shock happened last weekend.  My local Chamber of Commerce was hosting a sampler event where businesses bring their food and drink.  People buy tickets and, for as long as they want, can taste everything.  My mom is on the board and was pressured into volunteering for the event.  I used to be the Interim Executive Director and, since I didn’t have anything else to do, decided to help out.  I don’t know why I thought this was a good idea–considering that the job made me miserable all fall and early winter.  It was strange, seeing all the people that I only kind of knew.  Even stranger was being handed an apron and some raffle tickets and told to “work the crowd”–something I’m extremely uncomfortable with.  Plus, it was a hot day and the event was at the county fair grounds (a very American location) of a nearby Wisconsin town, meaning no air conditioning.  As I made my way through the boisterous, drunken crowd, all I could think was, “Dang… I’m not in Europe anymore.”

I’ve been taking things slowly.  Last week, I started working on the farm again.  This week, I’m reconnecting with several friends that I lost contact with while away.  Next week… who knows?

Creatively, I feel pulled in a thousand directions.  Given that I’m now working again and reestablishing my social life, it’s challenging to accomplish all that I want to do.  With everything on my plate, blogging has taken a bit of a backseat.  Bit by bit, I’ve been sorting through the thousands of photos I took on my travels and posting them to social media.  I’m also working on putting together a video project–videography is a fun new medium, but time consuming!  I managed to pick up my paints yesterday for the first time in over a month.  I hope to put together some watercolors to send to friends who are returning to L’Abri this summer.  I’m also reading a lot–as usual.  Now that I’ve been reunited with my books, my “To Read” list is getting longer every day.

The fun thing about fulfilling your dreams of travel and adventure is that it makes room for new dreams.  My time at L’Abri moved prospective career choices and roads into alignment.  It’s funny, the area I feel pulled is something that has crossed my mind in the past, but didn’t feel right until I went back to England.  Now, nearly a year after finishing college, I finally feel ready move forward.  The prospect of getting a job, my own place, possibly working towards grad school, and moving into the future is an exciting one.

This has been a pretty haphazard post, so thanks for sticking with me.  Despite all the changes, the weirdness, and the exciting prospect of the future, I’m thankful to be home.  I’ve missed this place.  You know that you’re blessed when, at the end of an adventure, you’re content to be home at last.

With a home like mine–how can you not?

The orchard is in bloom!

5 thoughts on “Reverse Culture Shock & Moving Forward

  1. brittabottle May 9, 2016 / 9:18 pm

    I relate to this so much, Amelia! For the first time since I can remember, I’m content to be at home for a while. In high schoo and college, I always felt so pulled in so many directions and being home was “boring.” I never took time to appreciate it for what it is.
    For the first time, I am also ready to move into the world and get my own place and take on more responsibility. I’ve come into myself so much more and am ready to take on more than I ever imagined before leaving for Thailand.
    And yes, being home is weird. It’s the little things that continually get to me…and I often feel myself wanting to speak the little Thai I picked up. 🙂
    For now, I’m resigned to scrolling through job postings online and applying for as many as I can…though hopefully something will come up soon!
    Seriously, let’s get coffee soon. It’d be so nice to talk and I feel like, although our experiences were so different, we will end up relating in many ways.

    • Amelia May 10, 2016 / 8:40 pm

      It sounds like we’re pretty much in the same boat at the moment! And yes–coffee would be great! I’ll message you on Facebook and we can arrange something.

      • brittabottle May 11, 2016 / 11:51 am

        Sounds like a plan. 🙂

  2. Mary May 10, 2016 / 9:03 pm

    I’ve been feeling like this too recently! I’ve been home/at school for several months now, but I kept busy and never really had the time to process that I was no longer in Dublin. It’s been a lot harder than I thought, I never thought it was something I was going to dwell on, then with the free time I’ve suddenly found myself missing it more often.

    • Amelia May 10, 2016 / 10:03 pm

      It’s amazing how, when you live abroad, you leave part of yourself behind. I definitely relate with you, Mary! When I left England after Easter, I plunged straight into traveling alone for a month and keeping myself alive, which took up all my time and energy. Now that I’m home, longing for England keeps sneaking up on me in quiet moments.

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