Reverse Culture Shock

To recap the time between August and now… ahem: 

August was filled with me warming my desk and teaching 8-10, 50 year old Libyan males twice a week for two weeks. We mostly talked about Alaska. 

September included traveling back to Fairbanks (from Ankara… longest 30 something hours of my life), buying a bike, hanging out with best friends and puppy-sitting, and traveling to Homer (one of my favorite towns in the world).

October included shipping our goods to South Korea (oh btw I’m going to Korea in a few months), flying to Minneapolis to pick up our car, and driving to Virginia with my sister (with a pit-stop in Indianapolis, HI JANET AND DENNIS!).

Part of the reason I haven’t updated is because I was rather busy, but a large part was because I was (and kinda still am) adjusting back to ‘merican life. I don’t think I had much culture shock going to Turkey. Things were definitely different, but I was prepared for things to be different. I kept my mind open the 13 months I was there, and viewed everything as either a great story or a learning experience. 

Now, I had heard of reverse culture shock. But I thought, “If I can easily live in Turkey, how bad can it be going back to where I came from?” It was a fable. Something to scare fearless solo travelers. 


I’m not sure which came as more of a shock to me: the fact that I felt (feel) out of place, the obsession with the abundance of EVERYTHING, or the fact that nothing at home was different. 

The first and last reasons can probably go together, so I’ll talk about the second first. 

Two days or so after I arrived in Fairbanks, we went grocery shopping. I had my list and I was ready to get in and out. It was just Fred Meyer; I used to go there once or twice a week so I was sure I had the layout imprinted into my brain. It took me TWO HOURS to find everything. Two hours, and multiple times I thought I was going to puke from feeling overwhelmed and claustrophobic. I understand America is capitalistic and Americans love their freedom of choice (and economics and consumers and blahblahblah). But good golly. Is there really a demand for 50 types of milk? (hemp, almond, coconut, soy, cashew, chocolate, cow, chocolate coconut honey seashell?!?) REALLY? I promise you’ll survive without it. What about 25 different types of oatmeal? It’s like this for everything. 

This abundance of choice has lead to an abundance of possessions. Yeah, okay, Lulu Lemon has nice things. But BULLSHIT you need five of the same hoodie in different colors. I knew their were options galore before I left, but I really wasn’t aware of the scale. Living for year with things I don’t need (that I thought I did), my perspective has changed. I’ve changed. Yet America hasn’t. 

Leading me back to my first and last reasons. Things I cared about in Turkey don’t matter here. No one knows who Erdogan is. None of my friends had Syrian refugee students, or had to teach English to 50 year old men in 100 degree weather while wearing pants and sleeved shirts because otherwise you would be dressed inappropriately. No one I know here has had to look students in the eyes and tell them to go ahead and try for that US visa, while knowing it’s damn near impossible. 

Obviously, not ALL my friends and family are going to be able to connect with me and completely understand, and that doesn’t bother me at all. Those are very specific examples and experiences (and it’s probably a good thing most Americans have no idea who Erdogan is). But most of the time I feel like I have no one to share these experiences with. I’ve grown and experienced a ton in the last year (and I’m just getting started), but anytime I have a contribution to a conversation, all people hear is *insert country* and suddenly I’m a bragging, pompous, twat. Things changed while I was gone in the sense that people went on with their daily lives, started or ended jobs and marriages, ate and pooped. But I’m having difficulty coming to terms with the realization that most people just can’t relate, and most never will be able to. 

I also feel the need to justify things I can’t do or that I’ve missed out on by reminding people I’ve been gone. Yeah, I came in last place at that CrossFit competition, because I couldn’t train all the time BECAUSE I WAS IN TURKEY. Who is Sam Smith? I WAS IN TURKEY. WHAT MOVIE IS THAT I WAS IN TURKEY. It’s not healthy; I’m working on it.  

It’s even difficult for me to write this post. I’ve gone over in my head what I was going to write about for the last few weeks, and yet it’s still taking me a couple hours to hash this out.

I do want to emphasize that I know there are some that do enjoy my stories and rantings and ravings. I know a few of you check my blog regularly. Thank you. I enjoy writing and sharing, and it makes me happy knowing that some are reading and listening. 

I mentioned earlier that I’m going to Korea (South, duh), in a few months. I plan to continue to rant and ramble, but with a new blog. MAYBE A VIDEO BLOG WHO KNOWS.

This is the end; My Great Perhaps has not been found, but we’re getting there.

But Alaska does have this.
And these guys.

I told them they’d make an appearance.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s