Daily Journey Journal #155: culture shock

From October 29, 2014

Thirteen months and one day.

That is the longest I have been away from home. My other international adventures have taken me away for a few weeks, a month, six months, and while the return from those voyages came with their own shocks, this return by far has me the most shocked. Some things have stayed the same, and some have not, but it feels as if I am re-learning my own culture, trying to swim in a familiar stream, but without the memory of how to move my arms and legs.

For instance, I can read all the signs and understand everything, and I mean EVERYTHING the people around me are saying. This feels like sensory overload and leaves me baffled more often than not. And then, there is the re-understanding of what certain body language and gestures mean. I think the biggest shock however, is returning to the political culture of my state and country. While away, my head was buried in the sand and I didn’t pay attention to the controversies upon which our political candidates try to win our votes. I’ve always hated election season because of the opponent bashing and sheer waste of money and energy, but this time it is all the more disgruntling.  Sitting on the couch now, listening to the news or the campaign ads, I find myself thinking, Wait, just wait. Why is this an issue? Why is this something our politicians are arguing about? and Just a second, you can actually say that about someone else on TV?

It is odd becoming reacquainted with the controversies here and with my own opinions of such issues. In some ways, I think reverse culture shock is harder than culture shock because it lacks the thrill of encountering something new. Fortunately, the elections are almost here and then the transition will be easier.

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