I was able to study abroad in Australia these past five months, which I quickly adapted to as my home. Adjusting was a little difficult at first, but I quickly fell into the rhythm of things and came to see Brisbane, Emmanuel College and Australia as home. After five months, I returned home and experienced reverse culture shock.
The first thing I noticed was how weird the money seemed. I had gotten used to Australian bills of different colors and sizes, and not made of paper. I got used to 50 cents, $1 and $2 in coins, without one cent coins. As soon as I was given American money, again, it seemed strange to me. I wasn't used to having so many bills anymore. Quarters seemed so tiny, and pennies seemed so unnecessary.
I also realized my inherent boredom. What do you mean I can't go travel and see new cities anymore? What is there for me to do? Where are all the college parties and events for me to attend? Where is the random socialization that occurs when I hang out in other people's rooms in my wing?
Reverse homesickness -- this has definitely been the hardest part for me. I got used to seeing my Australian friends and other study abroad friends every day, and not seeing them all the time has been hard. It has been especially hard knowing that most of them have returned for the next semester, while I am still at home, waiting for my next semester to begin (not for another month). It is also difficult knowing that others have taken my place and the people that live there have moved on without me.
I find that I have a lot of difficulty connecting with people. I get frustrated talking with my friends (who didn't study abroad) about things in Australia. I find that people (especially Americans) are often judgmental of foreign cultures and ideals. It seems like everything that I mention to people is met by a universal statement of, "That's weird." Not everything is weird because it is different, it's just different. Just because we don't do that here, doesn't make it wrong, just different. This happened while I was still abroad, especially when I'd experience something new and tell others about it.
Finally, I became more negative towards my own culture. This is also a huge thing for me. Being abroad has changed my perspective on my native country drastically. Growing up in America, I was taught that I was living in the greatest country on the planet and that everyone is jealous of us and wants to live here, etc., etc., etc. I realized how wrong this was and have become a lot more pessimistic as a result. I realized many of the flaws in America were made apparent to me because of how other countries do it better; for example, gun control (put in place in Australia in 1996), health care, and higher education costs.
Overall, it has not been the easiest to adjust to being back home in my own native country. Although I'm sad to have left Australia, I know that experience will be a part of me and has shaped me more into the person I am and will become. I can try to continue to keep part of my Australian experience with me.