For those who are not family and friends and don’t already know, I finished my year in Kutaisi, Georgia in May. After a final month of last minute weekend trips all over the country and tearful goodbyes, I arrived in the US. Reverse culture shock ensued. But let me tell you, out of all reverse culture shocks I’ve gone through, this was by far the best.
Reverse culture shock is exactly what it sounds like: it is the unexpected shock you get from your native culture after having been abroad and immersed in another culture for a significant amount of time. The worst part is that not many people are aware that it will happen. It is rather frightening to come “home” after being away and feel alienated by what should be “normal” and everyday. I experienced terrible reverse culture shock after I spent my year in Germany through the Rotary Youth Exchange Program. I was trying to speak German to everyone and crying all the time over missing my host families. I was frustrated at not being understood when discussing normal German activities. The reverse culture shock after my semester in Japan was similar to Germany. I was pissed off upon arrival in the San Francisco airport at how rude, unhelpful and shitty Americans were. I was also disappointed in how inefficient everything seemed. Oh, and the food was not nearly as tasty. Both of these times, the culture shock was immense and I was unhappy with what I saw in the US.
In May upon my arrival in the US, my first thought was how I did not have to bargain with the cab driver and that he would understand me. My next realization was that I could take a shower every day and that I could eat Chinese, Mexican, Japanese, Indian food, or a sandwich. I was happy! I was ecstatic! Every realization of the comforts around me caused a huge amount of excitement and an immediate semi-taunting post on Facebook to all of my friends still in Georgia (they asked me to stop posting pictures of the food I was eating, because it was making them very jealous).
The excitement eventually wore off and Kutaisi, Georgia began to seem like a very far away and distant memory. If it weren’t for the blog, the photo evidence and the people, I would believe that the experience was a strange dream. Despite it seeming like a dream, there is no way that I will ever forget Kutaisi and the amazing experience I had.