sound of silence

Reverse culture shock: when you return home to the sound of silence

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Reverse culture shock – Hello darkness my old friend

Reverse culture shock. I’d heard about it. When you arrive home, and to your eyes, everything is as it was. But to your heart, it’s all so different.

Well, it’s 6 a.m., and I’ve been ‘home’ for just under two weeks, and I’m just tired. I have slept little since being home. I have done nothing very productive since being back. I don’t feel – home. I feel – in traveller limbo. There was no onward journey when we touched down in Scotland, and I did not like it.

Carnoustie beach reverse culture shock
Carnoustie beach, Scotland

I’ve come to talk with you again

There is a realization that you have no home. Remember, you sold it. You have no career; you gave it up. Friends and family are still here, still doing what they have always done, happy as ever they were in their lives and you, well, you are a deserter. You went AWOL for a year. Don’t expect to slide back into everyone’s lives because that ain’t happenin’. Most are glad to see you and will ask if you had a good time, you say yes, then you discuss the weather, and that is fine. Some don’t even muster that up. It’s weird. It’s all just very – strange. I don’t know where this reverse culture shock is going.

Because a vision softly creeping

This isn’t a complaint, let me tell you that. I’m not even attempting to fathom out anyone else’s motives. I’m just observing this is – how it is. Internally, it’s all washing over me. I see their curious look of ‘I will not ask you how you are’ and I raise it with my ‘wow this time last week I was enjoying a beer in Peru, how did I get to be back here’ thoughts to myself. So yes, we have met up with friends, and it was great to share stories with them and find out how everyone is. But then. What? What now?

Beer in Peru

Reverse culture shock…Left its seeds while I was sleeping

Ohhh, sigh. I just long to be outdoors. First, there are too many walls. Second, everything is just too neat. It’s orderly. Where is my chaos? It’s all too easy. For example, food comes inside packaging again. Pineapple comes in tins – TINS! Where is the Vietnamese boat woman on the Mekong Delta beckoning me up to take her beautifully carved pineapple? Is this the reverse culture shock I’d heard of?

Can Tho, Vietnam reverse culture shock
Mekong Floating Market, Can Tho, Vietnam

And then, coffee arrives at the push of a Nespresso button. No. I want to stand in the chill of the African morning air quietly lighting a fire and watching out for baboons as I boil the water. Watching the sunrise over the savanna. The sound of silence on an African morning is blissful. That is how to brew coffee. What experience comes of pressing a button?

Missing Namibia and reverse culture shock

And the vision that was planted in my brain

I was reminded of a blog I wrote a year ago, just before we left for our trip around the world, One life: out of the known and into the unknown, what was I scared of? Maybe I was afraid of leaving behind the known after all. Perhaps I was just scared I couldn’t hack the travelling life.  However, now I miss the serenity of travel, the excitement, the freedom, the diversity. I miss not knowing what the hell I am doing and relying on each other to work it out. No one told me this reverse culture shock thing would feel so – lonely. I want the Monday mornings of a travelling life back.  It can’t be finished. I’m just not, finished. I don’t want the journey to end.

sound of silence Botswana

– Still remains

I don’t want to learn that DFS is still on their final biggest sale. I don’t want to fathom out the ongoing British saga of Brexit. What is going on? I’m not ready for the Scottish cold and rain. The unfamiliar accents, the alien conversation. No to the soap operas and reality TV. Reality!? Whose reality is that? Not mine. Please don’t let this become my reality again.

Reverse culture shock- Within the sound of silence

So, for now, it’s 6 a.m., and there is no one around. No crowds gathered in corners of Chinese parks doing tai chi, no masses exercising, running along the riverside in Mumbai. Nothing. I’ve seen three birds and heard two cars. The sound of silence here is deafening. If this is reverse culture shock, I don’t want it, thank you. There has to be the next chapter. Right? There must be a second part. How can you leave all of the world behind?

sound of silence India
Pushkar, India

But finally, for those who are now thinking it here is The Sound of Silence 🙂

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