Reverse Culture Shock

It’s been quite a long time since my last blog post. Lots of things have been rolling through my mind since that time, but I hadn’t quite found the time or words for writing anything out.

To catch you up to date, I’m currently in the United States with my family. We decided to come home to the U.S. for a few weeks to visit family and friends, take care of a few business things, and to refresh and revive ourselves before returning back to our Zambian home.

We’ve currently been in country almost two weeks.  It’s been wonderful to see familiar faces and reconnect!! I do miss Zambia tremendously, but I’ve also greatly enjoyed my time here thus far.

Despite having an excellent time being back in the U.S. of A, I did still experience this thing called “reverse culture shock”.

I find this to be something very difficult to explain because I honestly don’t understand why this happens, but I’ll do my best. It’s basically when someone experiences culture shock or feeling out of place in their native country after being away for a time.

I’d guess the longer someone is away and where they are would factor into how reverse culture shock would affect them. For me, I was only away from the U.S. for a year, so I’d dare say many others have experienced reverse culture shock more drastically than I did….but I did experience it!

-I’ve spoken to people in a foreign language out of habit. A few of my American friends now know (and use) a couple Bemba words).
-I accidentally thanked the Mexican waiter in Bemba…yes, it was very embarrassing.
-I kind of freaked out in the restroom when everything was automatic and came on without warning (the towel dispenser, toilet, and even the sink!).
-I’ve walked to the wrong side of the car bunches of times. Driving here didn’t take much adjustment though. That’s probably because I didn’t drive in Zambia. Adjusting as a passenger has been harder than adjusting back to driving. Haha!
-Basically, having the freedom to drive feels really weird. The first time I left with a friend alone it felt SO STRANGE because there was no parent with us. In Zambia, there was always a parent around me and my friends. None of us could drive either, so a parent always drove. It just felt strange the first time…
-I’ve wondered whether or not we had electricity a handful of times.
-It’s weird not seeing so many people walking on the road.
-It’s also strange not seeing people carrying things on their head.
-I’ve LOVED taking nice hot baths in CLEAR WATER!!! Not gross copper-colored water. BLECH!
-It’s been super nice to not have people staring at me!! Not that I’ve let my guard down completely regarding being aware of my surroundings, but I immediately realized how tense I’d been in Zambia just looking out for people staring at me…but here I can relax so much!

The other thing I would say has been an adjustment is just my mentality. Like I discussed in a previous post, my mindset is very different from what it used to be. Being immersed back into the American culture with this mindset has been interesting. I find a lot of times I have thoughts and feelings that can’t be understood by the people around me. Whereas in ZA I had other missionary friends nearby who could relate to me on every level.  That being said, it’s been an adjustment with how to express myself (or not express myself sometimes) with my new mindset. haha

One last thing to say about being in the U.S.: Since being back I’ve realized how much God has grown me. I still have a LONG way to go…but seeing how I was mentally, spiritually, etc when I lived in the U.S. vs. how I am now, I realize how much I have changed.  I rely on the Lord more in everything, not just the hard times. I realize how much God has helped me to prioritize things in their proper place. Along similar lines as my last point on my mindset, I just realize how different I am spiritually and I’m thankful for the work God has done in me.

I’m not saying I’m perfect by any means! I have a LONG LONG way to go and perfection is something I’ll never achieve in this earthly, sinful, body of mine. I have many sins I still need to work on. All I know is I’m a work in progress and I’m grateful to God for the lessons he has taught me this past year.

So, now you know a little about what my last couple weeks have been like. Hopefully the next few weeks in the U.S. will be as wonderful, and I hope I can find time to keep you all updated more often. 😉

Thanks for reading friends! =D

(Just a few photos with my friends in the U.S. 😉 )