Saturday, July 31, 2010

I'm home

OKAY, so, you wanna know the reason for The Beat's hiatus? I can finally admit it to the blog world...

I have textbook reverse culture shock. No big, right? To the long analysis we go!!

According to the first site Google popped up when I searched said pathetic, but totally real ailment,
, "reverse culture shock" is usually described in four stages:

1. Disengagement
2. Initial euphoria
3. Irritability and hostility
4. Readjustment and adaptation

(My thoughts in bold-parenthesis.)

Stage 1 begins before you leave your host country. You begin thinking about re-entry and making your preparations for your return home. You also begin to realize that it's time to say good-bye to your friends abroad and to the place you've come to call home. (THIS WAS HARD. A month or so before I left, I could never have a conversation with someone without them asking me exactly when I would be leaving. I don't blame them for wanting to know how much time I had left, but between the goodbye dinners, the farewell parties, the promises that I would send my Oita-karass postcards or visit them in the near/distant future, the last ditch effort to travel to places I knew I would probably never see again, the enormous amount of packing I had to do, the souvenir shopping, the canceling of cell phone, bank account etc, IT WAS ALL A CONSTANT REMINDER THAT EVERYTHING WAS COMING TO AN END. Oh and leaving my lovely bf. Sigh.) The hustle and bustle of finals, good-bye parties, and packing can intensify your feelings of sadness and frustration. (Umm, this is from a study abroad site.) You already miss the friends you've made, and you are reluctant to leave. Or, you may make your last few days fly by so fast that you don't have time to reflect on your emotions and experiences. (Hence the lack of proper blog entries as of late. Apologies to my three readers, I guess.)

Stage 2 usually begins shortly before departure, and it is characterized by feelings of excitement and anticipation - even euphoria - about returning home. This is very similar to the initial feelings of fascination and excitement you may have when you first entered your host country. You may be very happy to see your family and friends again, and they are also happy to see you. (Yes, yes, yes. Don't get me wrong, even though I loved living in Japan, it was time for me to go. I was genuinely excited to go home and start a new adventure. I love my family and my friends to death and I could not wait to catch up on what I missed out on for the last year and a half.) The length of this stage varies, and often ends with the realization that most people are not as interested in your experiences abroad as you had hoped. They will politely listen to your stories for a while, but you may find that soon they are ready to move on to the next topic of conversation. (That's not true. At all. I can entertain people with my boring stories abroad for hours.)

This is often one of the transitions to Stage 3. (HA! Psssh, whatever!) You may experience feelings of frustration, anger, alienation, loneliness, disorientation, and helplessness and not understand exactly why. (Reverse culture shock, duh? Or PMS. I digress. At this very, very moment sitting in my bed at 1:33 a.m., I'm in this stage. People who know me can attest that most of the time I'm right sprightly and high off the life bong, but I am one sad, lil' blogging emo girl right now. I could give my right arm to go back three months in time.) You might quickly become irritated or critical of others and of U.S. culture. (That Vegas trip. The state of Arizona. Actually, the thing that's pissing me off the most right now is the most insignificant thing ever BUT WHY THE HELL WONT THE WIRELESS WORK IN MY ROOM??) Depression, feeling like a stranger at home, and the longing to go back abroad are also not uncommon reactions. You may also feel less independent than you were while abroad. (Yuuuuup, and I've gained like 5 pounds. Ohhh I love dem french fries in my burritos, fuck yeah!)

Most people are then able to move onto Stage 4, which is a gradual readjustment to life at home. (Phew! But being sad makes me stop stuffing my fat face.) Things will start to seem a little more normal again, and you will probably fall back into some old routines, but things won't be exactly the same as how you left them. You have most likely developed new attitudes, beliefs, habits, as well as personal and professional goals, and you will see things differently now. (True. I feel like I have changed for the better--I take off my shoes indoors! Such clean floors!) The important thing is to try to incorporate the positive aspects of your international experience while abroad with the positive aspects of your life at home in the United States
(I'm now getting too optimistic and therefore have to stop trying to cheer myself up. Being sad is so much more conducive to the creative writing process.)

Thanks. Now what? To New York is what! Where I can go on another year-and-a-half-long journey, of course! Any ideas for a NY-themed blog name? Major site revamp to follow!