Saturday, September 5, 2015

CULTURE SHOCK

You know the saying "You can't go home again"?  What I've learned is that's 100% true.  It's the weirdest feeling to spend 11 months of the year pining for your home country...friends, family, food, everything that's familiar...and then arriving to find that nothing feels quite right.  It actually feels like a pretty unfair situation that in the country you serve you often feel on the edge of everything because of language or cultural differences, but then you go home, and you feel the exact same way.  Why?  Why is all this weirdness happening?  I mean, I lived 30 years in the U.S. before I came to Nicaragua, so why do I feel so strange when I go home?  Why do I feel like it's my home country giving me culture shock?

Well, it's because life doesn't exist in a vacuum.  When I go home, friends have moved on, congregations have changed, family dynamic is different, etc.  But in my heart I pressed pause the last time I left the U.S., so it feels strange to me.  Also, living full-time in a 3rd world country makes the adjustment to a 1st world country quite the kick in the gut.  Everything's so big and developed and easy, and it makes everyday decisions feel hard.  Constantly debating prices vs. value and feeling really overwhelmed at the amount of choices.  I have to carry lists with me of needs when I go into stores because if I don't know exactly what I'm looking for, I get overwhelmed and just walk straight back out.  My Mom has had to drive me back to a store to ensure I actually buy what I really need.  Whether I like it or not, this land of lakes and volcanoes has gotten under my skin.  We have a love/hate relationship, but at the same time, don't YOU talk smack about it, because I'll defend it in a minute.

But you know what?  In a way, all this weirdness is good.  Because do you know what's worse?  Having a roundtrip ticket back to Nicaragua but going home and feeling like "THIS is amazing!   THIS I could do again.  I REALLY REALLY miss all of THIS".  Because then you're in trouble. Then you've let yourself get comfortable maybe even dreaming of how life would be back in the land of plenty and basically just ensuring a REALLY hard transition back to your assignment and A LOT of tears at the airport.  So my personal wish every time is to feel just a little weirdness...just enough to ensure I get on that plane back each time.

15 comments:

  1. When we see people on the news struggling daily just for basic needs (i.e. Syria) it brings to mind how we in developed countries have forgotten just how good we have it. With so much abundance we can easily lose our gratitude and lose sight of the most important thing. (Matt 24:14) Your post reminded me of this article *** w14 3/15 pp. 7-11 and how even the apostles had to work at having a self-sacrificing spirit. We pray for your continued self-sacrificing spirit dear sister and appreciate so much the work you are doing and sharing with us through your blog posts. May Jehovah continue to bless you!! -

    Missouri Friends

    ReplyDelete
  2. Really enjoyed this post. Thank you for sharing

    ReplyDelete
  3. At times, Need Greaters must leave the country of their personal choice they made. Death threats and violence against the friends, and if you are responsible for a wife? You have to leave. Or ... if the country just kicks you out. You have to leave. We've had to go through it. People that get an actual official assignment from Gilead have had to go through it. And the phenomenon you speak of is 1000% true. It's known as 'reverse culture shock'. As I born in the U.S., and , when we got back to the States, I found that Americans really ... really ... really bothered me. For a LONG time. I just found the attitude completely bothersome. It's known as "Reverse Culture Shock". And it stinks. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I didn't know there was a word for it! That's very interesting.

      Delete
  4. I feel like I have something to say about this but I'm not toy sure how to express myself. I've experienced (every time) the reverse culture shock. I tend to soak it up though in an odd way of enjoying it and hating it at the same time. All I can remember when I go back to the states is how much pain the abundance and distractions caused me. I've never been one to deal well with the plenty. But here I can be focused on my service and working on the deeper personality flaws other than - stay away from materialism (and the like) - while I'm serving in another country. I find that I truly can refine who I am and why I am in Jehovah's organization by being away from all the junk. I am sure you feel similar. Life is hard down here, there's no doubt about it. It's a day in-day out sacrifice. And I'm learning every day more about what that sacrifice really means.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's a good way to look at it, Meg.

      Delete
  5. Shawn, First of all welcome back to blogging....whew....3 months is too long my friend. I love this blog because it is so true. The re-adjustment back into "normal" first world life is so much harder than the adjustment to living in the third world. You see selfishness and the petulant attitude of people ever clearer. I always find coming back so difficult, and as you state, a lot of it has to do with the fact that the world, "life" does not stop because you are not here. Everything just keeps on rolling and things change. And a think a big part of it is that we have changed. Our circumstances require adaptability when serving where there is a need and we do our best to adapt and then no longer fit in when we go home. I am so proud to know you and to know how much effort, love and patience you are putting into your assignment. Take care sis!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Those are words of experience talking, Andrea. I appreciate what you do too. You've had to make true, long-term adjustments and I can only imagine how difficult that was for you. You're doing sooooo great, though, and it makes me so proud to be your friend.

      Delete
  6. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Completely understand how you feel. We experienced reverse culture shock sooooooo bad this time around. It's been five months (eep!) and we are still weirded out. I had a panic attack the first time we drove up to a person's house- cuz you just don't do that at home. It definitely makes us appreciate Honduras more, and we are so glad to be heading back.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I can understand those exact sentiments! I have been back home home for almost a year now and sometimes I still feel out of place! Yet, I am so grateful Jehovah has given me a busy,bustling assignment here now so that I can still feel that "need greating rush"! He knows what we need to stay happy and busy! Much success to you as you give Jehovah your best!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Wow this is so encouraging! I'm headed to Nicaragua again in two weeks n ill be there fir a while

    ReplyDelete
  10. Well I dont know of having culture shock in reverse as we have only been here in the states since end of march and I havent gone back home yet but I can tell you this culture shock totally wiped me out. I never realised how different the US - especially the bible belt is different from Australia where no one goes to church... I almost dont want to go back home to visit coz I think that would totally mess me up! It's crazy to think I could feel this way and no one understands it because they have never moved states let alone countries, I thought I was a little home sick but realised it was culture shock which is a VERY REAL thing and has had me suffering such bad side affects. I know Jehovah is here infact anywhere each one of us goes and its in his strength we learn and grow. Hope you are feeling better soon xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow, you picked a doozy of a place to serve. I moved from the Midwest to the South within the U.S. and it was culture shock so I can't imagine how it must feel from Australia. That particular part of the world is very unique culturally, so just do your best. Focus on the positives and just keep repeating "it's not better or worse; it's just different"

      Delete