The Culture Shock of Coming Home

shock of coming home
I’ve been back in the United States for a week and a half now and it’s been a weird transition. Though this is my second time coming back home from overseas, it is no less strange. When I first came home after 18 months away, I found America to be a very strange place. It was a foreign land all over again. I had forgotten so much about America but, more than that, I found the concept of “being back home” far stranger.

To quote Benjamin Button, “It’s a funny thing about comin’ home. Looks the same, smells the same, feels the same. You’ll realize what’s changed is you.”

I had come to realize that I didn’t fit in here anymore. I had this fire in me. It yearned to try new things, see new places, and meet new people.

It was hard to adjust to the U.S.’ constant driving culture, fast pace of life, small sodas the size of my hand, appetizers big enough to feed a family of four, cars the size of tanks, and “big box” Wal-Mart stores that housed ten of thousands of things to buy.

“Holy shit! Supermarkets here are huge,” I exclaimed wide-eyed as I walked down the aisle of our supermarket.

“They are YOUR supermarkets. This is your home. Don’t say here like this is a foreign place,” my mother replied curtly.

At first, home was fun. There was an excitement about being back. I went to my old haunts, favorite restaurants, and caught up with my friends.

But as that excitement wore off and I had revisited all my haunts, I realized Mike was right. Home had remained frozen during my time away. My friends had the same jobs, were going to the same bars, and mostly doing the same things. In Boston, the same stores were there, the construction still going, and the bars filled with the same types of people

After a year of mind-blowing adventures, I was back to where I started. My friends don’t understand the new me, didn’t want to hear about your time sailing the Pacific while they sat in rush hour, or don’t get why my feel so uncomfortable being back.

But, the second time around, the biggest shock of coming home wasn’t cultural — it was simply the shock of being home. After my first trip, I found it hard to adjust to driving everywhere, the cost of things, the quick pace of life, and not having people to interact with 24/7. This time around those things, as well as ordering a small soda the size of my hand, meals big enough to feed a family of four, huge cars, lack of intelligent news networks, and “big box” Wal-Mart stores, are still an adjustment.

Yet all that “adjusting” has paled in comparison to the simple shock of just “being home.” That is the hardest thing to deal with.

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