I never took stock of what culture shock could do to someone until I was able to compare my culture shock in China to my reverse culture shock to when I returned stateside. In fact, experiencing culture shock in China brought out the anger in me. I would complain about the way people stared or laughed so openly at me. They would come up and stroke my arms (which are super bare…yes, I mean not one hair) and claim how soft my skin was…without permission. Once, I was asked if they could lick my arm to see if I tasted like chocolate…ummm YUCK! and No Thanks!
Oh! almost lost my train of thought….ok, so in the past 10 months I have experienced such extreme depression, which I have never shared with anyone. All of my family, friends and co-workers know is that I miss China…very, very, very much.
What they may not know is that I have become disenchanted with life in America and why that is so.
Before you characterize me as unpatriotic, it is not that at all. My eyes have just been opened to the fact that no matter how much freedom we have in America, there is another form of bondage that arises, whether it be internal or external. I am disenchanted by the lack of security I feel not being around outsiders, but insiders, some people of this very land. I am disenchanted and frankly overwhelmed by the medical system here. I am shocked by the hits I am getting financially and the constant struggle to keep mine and my family’s head above water, as opposed to when I was living abroad, rent was paid by the company, medical bills were covered by insurance and if there was anything to pay, even for a major surgery, it was almost pennies on the dollar.
Political turmoil did not touch us…in fact if things were happening around us politically, we were blissfully unaware. As long as we were living right, not doing anything to break the laws of the land, we had an easy living. I keep asking why I can’t “get that loving feeling” here in America? Why was I feeling so helpless, claustraphobic and often angry at the immediate world around me? It didn’t seem to make much sense…I mean, I was home!
Recently, with the help of a friend, an experienced, life-long traveller, I discovered that I was experiencing reverse culture shock. “According to the Marquette University Office of International Education: Study Abroad website, reverse culture shock is “an emotional and psychological stage of re-adjustment, similar to your initial adjustment to living abroad.” The chance of experiencing culture shock increases the longer you’re away from your home culture and the easier you adapt to your host culture.”–Shelly D. Lane, Ph.D
To better understand my extreme longing for my host country, here is a post I recently penned on Facebook…which baffled some, angered some, while others totally understood where I was coming from:
I miss China….How can it be that I lost my heart to a country that doesn’t belong to me? I long to go back and see her countryside, her skyscrapers that are mile high, the look of awe (or shock) on people’s face when it registers that they are seeing a black person face-to-face, to dance in the square at night working up a healthy sheen of sweat, walking hand-in-hand with my love by my side and the boys running wild with our puppy nipping at their heels playfully…oh how I miss the simple life that is China.
Here’s to hoping for a cure for my longing….until next time.