Reverse culture shock
Anna Boarini | Friday, August 24, 2012
When I was getting ready to go to Nepal, I tried to prepare myself for living in a culture very different from my own. I read about the culture and talked to anyone and everyone I could who had been to Nepal before. I was ready to deal with culture shock. What I wasn’t prepared for was the culture shock I would experience when I got home.
I got off the plane at O’Hare and made it through customs smoothly. Everything was going fine. And then I had to talk to someone. Hearing English being spoken freaked me out. My first language is English, and it’s not like I never heard it in Nepal, but I was so used to the sound of Nepali that hearing English was weird. Then, I noticed just how many white people there were. No joke, when I saw all the blondes with blue eyes, I got nervous. I didn’t know how to act. I didn’t understand why everyone around me looked like I did.
The worst though was going through security. On a normal day, security at O’Hare can make even the most hardened traveler nervous. Well, I was not at my best when I walked into that security line. I was tired from traveling for two days. I was jetlagged out of my mind. I still had a tika (a red mark, made from powder that is a blessing) on my forehead. And I was dressed like a total bohemian hippie, complete with purple MC Hammer parachute pants, looking the part of the traveler returning from South Asia.
Just being in line for security was so overwhelming, I started to cry. I already looked like a crazy person from what I was wearing, and the tears did not make it any better. The TSA agents probably thought I was some sort of criminal.
Once I made it through security, I barely caught my connecting plane. I didn’t leave my culture shock in Chicago; it has followed me to Indianapolis and South Bend.
Hot water still freaks me out. Air conditioning makes me so cold, that my lips actually turned blue in class. I think chicken tastes bad, and cheese is a super-weird food.
Now, there are definite perks for being back in the U.S. I can get Diet Coke whenever I want. The power doesn’t just go off for any reason. I can do laundry in a washing machine and not by hand in my shower. I was ready to come home at the end of the summer. But I had no idea how weird the U.S. would seem.