“When you travel overseas, the locals see you as a foreigner, and when you return, you see the locals as foreigners.”
“Reverse culture shock is the emotional and psychological distress suffered by some people when they return home after a several years overseas. This can result in unexpected difficulty in readjusting to the culture and values of the home country, now that the previously familiar has become unfamiliar.”
I wouldn’t say I am distressed, but it certainly is different from life on Ometepe Island, Nicaragua.
You know you have reverse culture shock when…
1. There are an overwhelming number of choices
I am lost and bewildered when I enter a grocery store. Yesterday, I stood in front of the canned baked beans and cried…10 different types of baked beans? In Nicaragua, it was always fun to shop; I never knew what unexpected treasure hidden among the shelves I would find. Dill pickles, pretzels, and dark chocolate were treats. Now, with too many choices, it is more of a frustrating experience.
2. The leaves change color!
3. Everything is super sized.
5. You need a car.
Unless you live in a big city, you definitely need a car. A week after we returned to the states, we bought a car. Then, we high-tailed it out of the states to Canada. 5,000 miles later, we are back in the states and preparing to store our car in the garage so we can leave again.
6. There are dog parks and free plastic bags to pick up dog poo.
We always laugh when we see the doggie pot stations. Our Nicaraguan friends wouldn’t understand the need for these stations and the free plastic bags would be gone in seconds if this was in Nicaragua.
7. You can protest freely…( at least for the time being )
Nicaragua does not permit freedom of speech. Protests are now illegal and the people participating in protests have been shot, imprisoned, and foreign journalists have been deported for documenting the protests.
8. Everyone decorates for Halloween.
Although our house is rented to good friends, we still have a bedroom and can stay for as long as we want. I came home the other day to a graveyard in our back yard. Our renters love decorating for Halloween. This is so much fun to watch the ghoulish transformation of our house.
9. You can hear train whistles and watch the train pass by.
10. There are hay bales stored for the cattle to eat over the winter.
It mystified me in Nicaragua why the farmers didn’t grow and store hay to feed the cattle during the dry season. Our next door neighbor grew zaycon, related to the sugarcane plant, to feed his cattle during the dry months. But, most of the farmers I knew simply let their cattle and horses roam the dusty roads in search of something to eat.
11. Everything is expensive!
This photo is self-explanatory. Before we moved to Nicaragua, we thought this was the size of a papaya. If you live in a tropical country, you know that papayas can grow to the size of a large watermelon.
12. Eggs and milk are in the refrigerated aisle.
13. There is no garbage on the streets and huge street cleaning machines sweep the streets daily.
14. The GPS on Google Maps identifies street addresses.
15. All the football games are broadcast in English. It still cracks me up when watching a Steeler game in Spanish. The broadcasters call the Steelers the banditos.
16. You rent a keyless car and can’t figure out how it starts.
17. You have to use a YouTube video to explain how the new handheld can openers work.
18. You do a speed test for your wifi and it registers at 60 mbps.
19. You have to get a prescription for antibiotics at the doctor’s office before buying antibiotics. I have a tooth infection and I have to go to the dentist today to get antibiotics. I am not looking forward to the cost. When we go to Colombia and Mexico I am going to stock up.
20. The school buses actually take children to school.
Do I feel like a foreigner in my home country? Yes! We have lived abroad too long to be able to return to the states and feel at home. I have the “been there…done that” attitude not only about returning to the states, but returning to Nicaragua as well. I guess it means it is time to move on.
If you have returned to your home country, what reverse culture shock are you experiencing?