I’ll be honest, I used to laugh at the idea of culture shock and reverse culture shock.
Now for me, I do not think I have had culture shock in any of the countries I have gone to. I am more like a sponge that wants to soak in as much of every culture and environment as I possibly can. Added to this, I live a hyphenated life. I am a Nigerian-American and I recognize with both. There are a lot of little parts of American culture that I do not identify with. Usually, they are replaced with some aspect of Nigerian culture. In fact, I’ve learned that my body prefers foreign foods more than American foods! At the same time, I am a true southern Texas girl with a homecoming mum as big as the state still hanging in my bedroom. Since I have always lived in essentially two worlds, I am never too surprised by differing cultures. I enjoy learning the differences between Korean culture and both American culture and Nigerian culture. Culture shock has not been an issue for this reason.
Reverse culture shock is another beast entirely. Even after my shorter 3 to 5 week trips all I wanted to do is to go back. It seems like no one is really interested in my trip and even if they are and I explain everything, it is not the same. I am convinced that it will only be worse when I get home this time. Four months of memories will be hard to express to friends and family when I get home. I have noticed that I spend quite a long time at stage 8. Usually the start of school and work snap me back to my normal mode, however most of the annoyance I have gotten post-trips is when people have discussions about events that you were not there for and they forget that. You are thinking I have been gone for two months, why would I know what you are talking about? At the end of the day, you just have to remember that during the time you are gone, their life still exists. Eventually you get back to your regular routine and everything becomes a wonderful memory.
I basically go from scale 1-7 my entire trip. Even now, when I talk to my family, I tell them I am not ready to come home. I did not have frustrations with the culture and the differences. I noticed that cultural aspects that are different from American culture are very similar to Nigerian culture. It’s been amazing to see how things that I thought would different are actually quite similar.
I wonder how other people deal with their cultural shock.