Anglo Adventure

Travel with a sense of humor


Reverse Culture Shock? 5 Things to Remember

quebec city, new france, place royale

From New France


central park

The Good Old’ USA

I should mention that I don’t live in New York or on a Central Park bench the way this picture would have you believe. A month ago, I moved back to Seattle where I write in my pjs and dream of more travel.

The repat experience goes like this: You have a favorite pair concert tee-shirt that you haven’t worn since high school (for me – the band Rancid is a perfect example). You pull it over your head only to find out that your body has changed. And you’re now questioning the band’s logo: are they still cool? Am I still way into them?

The answer is both Yes and No. Because you have changed. You no longer live for punk, identify yourself as a punk, you just like it. You’ve found new bands and even though you can still recite all the words to Timebomb, your mohawk has turned into a faux-hawk and you’ve traded in those combat boots for chuck taylors.

Quebec might be cold, but the people are warm. There’s no pressure to buy, less pressure to work, and everyone is really polite and soft-spoken. It contrasts sharply with the U.S. even though it’s on the same continent.

I love America, I love being an American, but when I went back, I felt a wave of reverse culture shock. Everyone seemed so loud and in a hurry. No more quaint epicuries. No more watching street circus acts in the middle of the afternoon. No more charming outdoor terraces.

Repatriot Tips:

1. Don’t talk about your experience abroad unless people ask. It’s boring. No one really wants to know what kind of cookies they have in your host country and how you can’t find them here. They really don’t understand and you come across as that pretentious-live-abroad asshole. Trust me. I’ve been on the other side of this many times.

2. Don’t bring a lot of stuff back. I moved back to Seattle and I am still sorting through the boxes, plus all that junk I put in storage. Purchase one or two cool souvenirs – a rug, a painting, something you can look at everyday, and bring it back. Don’t go crazy trying to make your contemporary apartment look like a London flat.  Continue reading