I've been back in America for four months and it's been rough!
I was not prepared to move from China back to America.
America came straight at me like a bullet train. My mind, body and spirit were not prepared for all things that America threw their way. I wasn't prepared to eat American food, to drive my American car, to sit in my American cubicle, or to interact with my American peers.
Here are the top 10 physical and psychological effects of reverse culture shock.
Upon returning to America...
1. I got really sick.
I spent 18 glorious months living in a tropical climate. Palm trees and mango trees lined my block. In the summer, the temperature easily reached 110 degrees.
I moved back to New York during the coldest month of the year... Febrrrrrruary. My body when into hypothermia the minute I disembarked from the plane. I thought that I could tough it out, but my body just wasn't equipped. I was sick for the entire month of March! Oh, and because America hates to make healthcare easily accessible, my insurance didn't kick in until April. So I was sick, and unable to get medical care unless I paid out of pocket. Ughhhh.
2. My cat got really sick too!
Did you know that cats can get stressed out???
Like... how? All they do is sleep, eat and lick themselves all day.
But the move back to NYC was too much for my poor cat. The stress from the move gave him a UTI which caused him to pee anywhere besides his litterbox. He was peeing, vomitting and throwing up hairballs all over my damn house! Not Fun!
3. My stomach is f*cked
In China my diet consisted of vegetables and rice. I was well nourished, happy, skinny and glowing. I'd never eaten so many vegetables in my life. Eggplant, String Beans, Bamboo, Garlic, Onions, Mushrooms, Cauliflower... any vegetable imaginable was readily available for consumption. Did I mention that this was take-out. Yes, fast food in China is still REAL FOOD.
Eating in America goes something like this. "I think I'll a burger, or a sandwich, maybe something fried??? I really should just order the salad... but I'm going to get the burger... oh and don't forget the fries". I haven't had a nutritious meal since I landed. Okay, I'm exaggerating. But America's war on food is real. Unless you have hours to slave away in the kitchen, or money to burn on take out... your choices are very limited.
I feel like I might have to move to China town to find food that won't make me fat, irritable and bloated.
4. My Credit Card exploded
America is expensive. Point. Blank. Period.
I miss my $3 lunches, my $15/wk cleaning lady, my $2 taxis. Everything is just so damn cheap in China!
The sticker shock at the grocery store, in the taxi cabs, and at restaurants was all enough to make me faint. I just can't believe how quickly the small things add up.
5. My safety bubble exploded
China is like a bubble.... because.... no one f*cks with China.
While I was in China, I felt safe. Guns, mental health issues, terrorism... these things just don't seem to exist in China (or they hide it very well).
Outside of China I can acutely feel the effect of Trump, School Shootings, Racism, the recession... it all sucks... and it's in your face 24/7.
6. I have Severe Fomo
Severe Fomo will cause you to:
a. Say yes to every social invitation that you receive
b. Drink 5 tequila drinks at each engagement
c. Dance until your knees beg for mercy
d. And curse yourself repeatedly for not being able to "sit your ass down somewhere."
e. ALL OF THE ABOVE
Severe Fomo does not care that you need sleep. Severe Fomo does not care that you have arthritis in both knees or that your liver is crying for mercy! Fomo takes no prisoners!
7. I HAVE "I need to be in my cubicle just because everyone else is in theirs" syndrome
I've fallen prey to that looming feeling of "they will fire me if I'm not chained to my cubicle." I've been sucked back into feeling guilty for taking my vacation days. But Gosh Darn It... I'm determined to use all of my vacation days!!! Why? Because all work and no play makes me bat shit crazy!
8. My Ears are Bleeding
Understanding all of the words that come out of peoples mouths is annoying. Why? Because most Americans spend 90% of their time complaining. Simply put, I don't want to hear it. I've even googled noise cancelling ear muffs that construction users wear to save their hearing. I would use them to save my sanity.
9. Brown People
This is one of the few upsides to being in America... all of the beautiful brown people. While I was in China I severely missed my black and brown people. I missed our culture. I missed my family. I missed dancing. I missed my momma's cooking (if my mom actually stayed home long enough to cook). And having it all back feels so wonderful.
10. Crazy Thought
All of the stress from reverse culture shock can be TOO MUCH at times. I daydream about booking a one way ticket to Timbuktu and just falling off the grid for a while. But then I pray about it and God tells me "You've GOT this." I continue to soldier on.
Thanks for Reading!