Coming Back to America: Reverse Culture Shock

I write this with a heavy heart.

Have you ever study abroad or lived abroad then come back to your country only to find days where you long that other place? Well that is me today. It has been 2 weeks since I came back from South Africa and I still feel like I don’t belong here. Though, I’ve acclimated (sort of) to the harsh 115 degree weather here in Arizona and the overly processed food, my heart hasn’t settled. I sometimes feel like I am trapped in a life that is not my own! How can you long for somewhere that is not home?

I miss the fresh, salty, ocean breeze. The crisp mornings. The colorful collage of fellow interns. The cheerful locals. The mysterious (sometimes sketchy) campus cafeteria food. The nights of cheering on rival teams during the World Cup in main house. The weekends full of wild African adventures. Walking cheetahs. Shark cage diving. Petting lions. Crafting my writing skills. Playing competitive card games. Not carrying a cell phone. Learning about different cultures and countries. Karaoke nights. Laughing until my sides hurt. Learning words in different languages. Not being plugged-in all the time.  Hearing stories around the bonfire.
I miss being care-free.

South Africa sunset

Then I also have this atrocious dilemma of “I DON’T KNOW WHAT I AM GOING TO DO WITH MY LIFE AFTER I GRADUATE”. Graduation is in May and although my time in Africa made me realize that I will be miserable for the rest of my life if I don’t find a way to involve nature and travel in it, that leaves the nagging question, HOW AM I GOING TO DO THAT???? How am I going to find a job that I can just write/record about traveling or animals when everyone and their mother wants to do that job? How do I find this ideal job? How do I out-compete those other competitors???

Excuse me while I go hyperventilate in a corner.


7 thoughts on “Coming Back to America: Reverse Culture Shock

  1. My daughter spent a semester studying abroad in Sydney Australia and she did not want to return to the states. It’s been 3 years and she’s comfortably settled and employed in Denver, Colorado but misses the travels. My son lives in Phoenix and can’t wait for his vacation in another week to escape that heat. Patience….. you’ll figure it all out :-)

  2. Go teach in Spain!!! Google North American Language and Culture Program! I am doing it for the 1st time ever! Spend the next year saving up money and do this! You can live in Spain for 8-9 months!

      1. No. Just a BA and proof you can speak Spanish. If you have not taken Spanish, enroll into a couple classes. If you want to know more google young adventures or texan in spain.

  3. I can totally relate. I studied abroad in Japan and then lived there for 5 years. My husband and I have been back in MI for about a year, and we’re still trying to adjust. Not a day goes by that we don’t discuss the merits of going back. Once you have that kind of experience, I think you’ll always be yearning, you know? But you’ll find a way to make your dream happen.

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