For the first time in a year and a half we are stepping off of Chinese soil and heading back home. To be honest, I have mixed feelings. Of course I’m happy to be able to see my friends and family, and to eat bagels (with cream cheese and lox), and steak (with a baked potato and sour cream) but the trip is going to be intense. We will be going to a lot of different towns and cities and seeing a lot of people in a short time. It’s going to be very whirlwind and expensive (we’re on the wrong side of the exchange rate now.)
There is also one further potential problem: reverse culture shock.
That’s right, thing in the US might be a little strange for us now that we’ve adapted to the Chinese lifestyle. In fact, I’ve read a number of blogs from people who have lived in China then gone back to the US for a visit who have faced just that. They have laid out a few potential shocks I might face.
Fast Talkers: When most people return they are amazed at how fast native English speakers talk. I’m not so sure I will be surprised by this. After all, I still watch movies and TV shows and outside of some of freshman classes I haven’t noticed that I have slowed my speaking down any. (I have noticed I lost a bunch of vocabulary due to my simplified way of speaking here, but that’s another story.) This could be something that surprises me, but I doubt it.
Clean Air: I think the people who are most affected by this live in big cities. I live in a small city with nearby mountains and lots of nature. I’ve never really thought the air was all that bad. So again I don’t think this will be a big shock. What I am looking forward to is stars. We don’t see a ton of stars here (due more to light pollution than air quality I think) and there is nothing like a crisp New England night for seeing stars.
Diversity: This one will be true I think. In China, I am diversity because I am blond. That’s how similar everyone looks here. Oh sure, they have ethnic minorities we have seen while traveling, but they still look ‘Asian’ and they have similar skin tones and body types. There are 2 African guys on campus but that’s about it for diversity around here. I am actually looking forward to seeing people of different colors, and faces and body types. (And finally being able to buy medium sized clothes instead of XL, or sometimes XXL like I have to do here.)
Food : Okay, I’ll admit I am a little worried about this one. The foods I miss the most, steak, burgers, cheese, are some of the toughest foods on your system. I think I am going to be getting a lot of stomach aches. Actually, I’ve kind of noticed small stomach problems when I eat a bowl of creamy mac-n-cheese, so I can’t imagine what eating a huge steak at Outback will do to my belly. The Chinese diet is very low in meat, and high in veggies both of which has been good to my system. I think eating some of these high fat foods might be a real shock to my system. But at the same time it is something I am really looking forward to. I think I will deal with stomach upset for a first few days as I fill up on some of my favorite foods, but hopefully I’ll have the willpower and inner strength to try to eat better once we’ve been back for a few days.
Well, you never really know how reverse culture shock is going to affect you until you get back. I remember after I got home the first time I backpacked around Europe for 2 months I marveled how everyone understood me and felt so strange in my own bed I slept on the floor one night. So we’ll just have to wait and see. Actually, I’m a little curious to see what I think of things back in the USA. (And to see what the USA thinks of me!)
While I’ll be home I’ve loaded my blog up with pictures and articles almost everyday that I’ll be gone so this space won’t be empty. To all my friends, I’ll see ya real soon! And to China leave the light on, I’ll be back real soon.
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