The Other Kind of Culture Shock
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The Other Kind of Culture Shock

You might expect culture shock when you arrive in a new country... but what about returning home?

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The Other Kind of Culture Shock

They say that when you move to a new country, you may experience culture shock. Studying abroad in Italy for four months, I thought I would feel at least a hint of this. However, I surprised myself by diving headfirst into a new language, city, currency, and friends, as well as a lifestyle of jet setting to prime destinations all over Europe every weekend.

And yes, about halfway through I got homesick as things slowed down. I realized that this wasn't just some vacation. I actually had classes and midterms and, most shockingly, that life was going on at homewithout me. My grandma was sick, and I couldn't be there to help my family. My best friend's brother died, and all I could do was send a card and hope things would be better when I returned. But I knew this was going to be hard, and I calmed myself by the reminder that I was lucky enough to behaving this experience.

But nothing could prepare me for the culture shock they don't tell you about: the shock of coming home.

I had imagined my homecoming for months, surrounded by my family friends at our annual Christmas party. I would surprise everyone with how mature I had become, how much happier I was and how different the world had made me, because that was certainly how I felt. Instead, I arrived home in a 25-hour sleep debt, unable to open my eyes, let alone have an adult and meaningful conversation. I walked into my room, took one look at the high school trophies displayed on my desk, the old photos of people and places I hadn't thought of once in my four months away, and nearly had a panic attack.


Thank God there was a houseful of guests outside waiting for me, or else I would've dropped down right there on the floor and cried for hours. I missed Italy, my new home, and my new family. I was completely lost on how to come to terms with the fact that I had just said goodbye to it all.

The one thing that stayed true to my expectations was my family's support. They really understood how life changing this experience was, and reminded me that it is perfectly okay to feel like my world had just been turned upside down, because it had. Everything was different.

And now I am sitting here alone on my rooftop patio, in my new apartment in Los Angeles, and I feel content. Being back at school has had its ups and downs, and it has been hard not to revert back to the lack of confidence I struggled with a year ago. I lost touch with many people, and walking around campus was like walking through a time warp—I forgot half of these people even existed. But I have some tried and true friends that have stuck with me since the beginning, as well as all my new friends from abroad, who are all going through the same transition and just want to be together again. I was dreading going to chapter. The thought of all those girls asking me if I was glad to be home and “OMG HOW WAS YOUR TRIIIIP?!!" made my stomach turn over and over again.

But of course, I got there and everything was fine. I said my hellos, reunited with a few long lost friends, and then retreated to my favorite part of my new apartment—my brand new bathtub. I let out a long sigh, letting the qualms, nerves, and confusion of the past few weeks run down the drain with the last of my new honey bubble bath.

Is it possible to fall in love with a bathtub? I might just stay here forever...


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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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