“We shall not cease from exploration and at the end of all our exploration we shall arrive where we started and see the place for the first time” –T.S. Eliot
Upon my return to the U.S. I felt the results of reverse culture shock almost instantaneously. I was warned about this prior to my journey back home, but at the time I didn’t grasp how much it would actually affect me.
Everything feels unusual to me now. Just when I felt I had adjusted to a new environment, my whole world was reversed. At first, I was extremely happy to be back. Some things felt so familiar and natural to me. Soon after though, I found some situations and places uncomfortable. I felt changed, and everything else felt the same.
The first thing that stunned me was the food choices. In Ghana, I was used to a diet with not much of a selection. In the States, I had almost the opposite problem. My first day back, I went to a breakfast buffet and was completely overwhelmed with the overabundance of food options available. From then, it was a gradual tuning out of the common courtesy I had known in Ghana, to the ones required in the U.S. I was used to saying please before every question, and having thorough conversations with complete strangers. I suppose the main dissimilarity that I continue to notice is the dramatic change from a collectivist society to an individualistic one. I had a difficult time adjusting to this when I first arrived in Ghana, and now it is the hardest to shake. People at home are not willing to have a drawn-out conversation with you if get lost, they don’t invite you to eat with them if you don’t have food, and they don’t typically think in terms that would give every person in a scenario the best outcome.
I am now approaching the completion of my first week back to the U.S. Although sometimes I still feel strange in particular situations, I feel like I am home. I do consider myself to have undergone a subtle transformation while I was gone. Now, certain circumstances and individuals don’t seem so black and white to me. Going on this journey was a blessing to my development as an individual, and I will always hold it as irreplaceable and valuable to me.