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Reverse culture shock

| Thursday, September 24, 2015

You’d think I’d be used to it by now.

As a junior, I should expect and accept the late nights writing papers and studying for exams. But as a junior returning from abroad, accepting the late nights and study culture has been a lot harder than I imagined. Before you go abroad, people always warn you about the culture shock you’ll experience when you get to a new country. What they don’t prepare you for is how the country you called home will turn into a culture you’ll never be ready to return to.

My time in Rome was the most amazing experience of my life. In my 102 days abroad, I traveled to eight countries and made memories that will last a lifetime. To keep those memories alive, during my many hours of procrastination I go back and read all of my blog posts from my travels. The exposure to so many new cultures and experiences inspired me to write detailed descriptions about how I felt and what I saw on some of my weekend trips. It was a time for me to reflect and absorb everything around me through writing, the one way I can absorb my thoughts and experiences best.

As much as I missed life at Saint Mary’s, nothing could prepare me for the shocking amounts of work and responsibility waiting to swallow me whole. It’s a huge lifestyle change to make in a short amount of time, especially when weekends that once consisted of plane rides to new countries now consist of studying and an endless flow of papers (English and Communication major problems). Although it usually makes me sad, one of the beauties of my procrastination problem is discovering new ways to handle culture shock from reading my travel blog.

Here is one passage I always return to whenever I can’t cope and feel like losing hope:

“I’ve never really been a person who enjoys having a routine or a strict schedule to follow. I’ve always kind of gone with the flow, taking whatever life throws at me. To some, this quality may seem irrational or unstable. To me, I’ve realized it to be a quality I’ve recently discovered about myself and want to embrace more and more. I love embracing change. Change makes me stronger, helps me live a happier lifestyle, teaches me to embrace positive thinking, opens my eyes to the huge world around me and eliminates boredom and regret from what-ifs.

It’s ok to miss my life abroad, but I have to take my own advice and embrace the changes life throws at me. After all, change is inevitable. Although my culture shock and assimilation back to the Saint Mary’s lifestyle has been difficult, I would never wish to rush my time here. Saint Mary’s is my home, even with all the work that comes with it. In the end, the changes I face will only make me stronger, and I am so ready to embrace every moment of it.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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About Alaina Anderson

Alaina is a Junior at Saint Mary's College and is studying English Writing and Communication Studies. From the warm and exotic state of Wisconsin, she is a professional shower singer, an ambassador for The Elephant Pants, and an avid lover of alliteration.

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