We’re Back! – Reverse Culture Shock

This is a post by Jenny.

It’s great to be back in the US, especially after going to a walk-in clinic and getting antibiotics and eye drops to treat the sinus infection and conjunctivitis that have been nagging me for nearly three weeks. It’s fantastic to see and talk to my family and friends. My bed, filled with my favorite stuffed animals, was a welcome sight. At the same time as all of this joy, I feel a bit disoriented and a sense of loss – mourning the end of the life I’ve been living for the last 8 months.

Ruminating on that…

David and I spent 60 days straight together, with only a handful of hours apart while he went for a walk on his own or I went shopping. It feels weird to be alone so much and not even see each other some days (our apartment isn’t ready yet so we’re each living at our parents at the moment). Aren’t you sick of each other? Surprisingly not!

In the countries we were in, the sun didn’t rise until about 7:30a, and didn’t fully set until about 9p. It’s depressing and disorienting that it’s fully dark here by 7:30p. The time zone change also had both of us waking up at 6am for several days.

In Spain, every evening we went for a paseo (walk) around 9ish and ate dinner sometime between 9:30-11p. Yesterday I was completely done with dinner by 6:15p – four hours earlier than what’s become normal. I’ve had a strolling walk most of the days, but it’s just not quite the same in my parents’ suburban neighborhood versus bustling, beautiful Valencia.

My first day back at work was yesterday. Taking the train up from Attleboro, it felt odd popping out in South Station and seeing all the modern skyscrapers – I sort of stared up at them in awe. While waiting for the train and on it, I sheepishly grinned to myself about my excitement of being able to casually talk to strangers and understanding strangers talking to each other after months of working myself up to talk to people in foreign languages.

The endless options are both overwhelming and exciting. 10 pairs of shoes to choose from when I’m used to 2? 20 pairs of earrings when I’ve had access to 4? And a closetful of clothing when all I’ve had is a small backpack with a handful of shirts?! The options are nice, but I also miss the simplicity of having so few choices. The same goes for food – great, yet dangerous, to have a [free] fridge and pantry at my disposal!

Along that same vein in the issue of having a lot of stuff. Luckily, my current frame of mind is to reduce my material possessions after surviving with so little for so long. This is greatly helping me as I go through all of my stuff to try to clean and organize my parents’ basement in anticipation of moving!

I’m generally a bike helmet fanatic (after getting hit by a car a few years ago). Through all our bike riding in Europe, there were no helmets even available. I slowly got used to riding without one. Getting on a bike for the first time yesterday, I felt like my helmet was an unwelcomed, foreign accessory – as opposed to being part of me like it used to be. However, this won’t change – I will always ride with my helmet while stateside. It did give me pause – helmets are to protect you for when your head hits something hard – but they aren’t the answer to bike safety – it should be about preventing what causes your head to hit something in the first place….

Well, being home and back to work, it’s already starting to feel like I never left. The “how was your trip?” questions will start to end and life will be ‘normal’. Have any tips on how to avoid feeling like our great adventures never happened?

P.S. we have several more great entries in the works- including a smattering of photos, details of the tomatina, cooking classes, some differences we observed, and a run down of the trip by the numbers – stay tuned!

2 thoughts on “We’re Back! – Reverse Culture Shock

  1. just because your trips are over doesn’t have to mean your adventures are=)
    Frame your pics and hang them everywhere of your trip, that’s what i did cuz it makes me happy when i see them and reminds me of those fun times=)

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