Well, I have officially returned to the US of A, and I am certainly not going to lie to you and tell you this post will adequately describe my emotions or reaction..actually I’m pretty sure this post won’t even come close. You see, being gone not only from friends, family, and familiar surroundings but also from an entire country and culture and immersed in that of another sure does change a gal. After nearly five months of a different language, culture, scenery, and people it is not easy returning home. In some way it feels like I never left and that I have picked off right where I left off, but when I stop and think this isn’t the case at all.
I look at people and actions differently, I (try) to think before I speak (which for those that know me is a PRETTY BIG accomplishment), I internally question many things that I have always merely considered absolute, and I have a much greater appreciation for my friends and family and the place I call home.In my International Human Resources class that I took abroad we learned a good bit about expatriates, or people that companies send to work abroad for any period of time. These expats as they are called must participate in pre-departure training, on going monitoring, and most importantly repatriation, which is essentially re acclimation to one’s home culture. This repatriation involves anything that will possibly reduce the “culture shock” that takes place when the ex pat returns home. See I did learn stuff in class!
Anyhow to the point, the past few days (6 to be exact) have been my own form of repatriation. Getting re-acclimated to my home culture and surroundings is exactly like we learned in class. I have to readjust to the language, food, people, society, etc. I haven’t exactly decided on what the best way to reflect on returning home so until I can think of a sure fire way to do so, I will post about various things that seem strange/interesting/amazing that one can only notice after being gone for so long.
The first strange adjustment I have had to make (as I am sure all of my fellow students have as well) is being surrounded by a language that I actually understand. No longer can I simply hop on the bus or go to the grocery store and zone out and be completely unphased /by the hustle and bustle around me. No, instead I now understand every fight, every gossip, every complaint, EVERYTHING! This of course isn’t a bad thing (all the time), but it certainly is a sensory overload and something that is taking a bit to get used to.
Another very apparent “culture shock” occurred in the Atlanta airport. Shortly after I landed and traveled through customs, I emerged from the basement elevator and WABAM fast food was EVERYWHERE. McDonald’s, Arby’s, Chinese, Pizza, you name it it was there, and accompanying the “restaurants” were fat people stuffing their faces and women and men dressed like they just rolled out of bed! Now don’t get me wrong I’m not preaching about the God forsaken evils of fast food and consumer America, I am simply stating that it certainly is different from Europe, and little ole Liechtenstein in particular! People in Europe (I’m generalizing of course) dress nicely when they travel, and by nicely I mean they wouldn’t be caught DEAD in sweatpants on a plane! If you have every flown in America you know what a joke that would be in America….
Another adjustment that has taken a bit to get used to is something very simple…driving! Granted, it wasn’t as hard to readjust as I thought, but it is still strange to be able to roll the windows down and blare the radio (in English) and actually have to drive myself places. After simply hopping on the bus or other form of public transportation for the past months, having to plan and transport myself places is kind of a let down…good think I love my car though.
Exercising is another rather large thing that has taken/will take a lot to get used to, but I will spare you the whiny details and simply state after months of eating/drinking, very little exercise and overall lounging hitting the gym the day after I returned left me unable to walk for a good two days. This next month before school should be fun…
As more time passes I am getting more and more used to being home and in the States, but I certainly miss those beautiful Alps and more importantly the people that I came to know and grew to love. Sometimes a song will come on or a topic will come up in conversation and it triggers some of the memories from abroad…perhaps the best in my life. i balled the entire way to Zurich (and for those that know me I DON’T cry…pretty much ever) and even making a few of the boys cry when I left, my only comfort was knowing that friends all over the world are waiting with open arms for me to visit, and you better bet I am going to take y’all up on that!
Since I have
taken up a good bit of your time, and web space, I guess it is time to end this post and leave you eager to read the next one RIGHT?? I’m off to Gulf Shores to soak up the sun and sand I have missed so much and catch up with the best friend. Ta ta for now and wish me luck “repatriating”!
Oh and PS- if you are ever looking for something interesting to do wear a Dirndl through the Atlanta airport and on the flight to Gulfport. You will undoubtedly get stares, laughs, and great conversations started!