When Culture Shock Strikes….

Anyone who has lived or traveled abroad is probably well-acquainted with culture shock. Culture shock can be disorienting. Everything is different; the food, the people, the language, the cultural norms. These are all things that I expected when moving to China. What I didn’t expect was how difficult it would be to revisit the United States.

My visits are usually crammed with visiting friends and family, eating out, shopping, and going to festivals/sporting events, etc. I try to squeeze in as much as possible. But I frequently find myself feeling down and troubled by many things that I experience while back “home.”

I’ve been gone for a year and a half now and so much as changed since then. The music is different–I hardly recognize a single song I hear on the radio. There are new televisions shows, movies, and restaurants. Even at my favorite restaurants the menu items have changed. A trip to the grocery store is daunting as there are so many options. I am used to a small selection and the sheer volume of choices at American grocery stores is overwhelming. Have you ever looked at how many different kinds of breakfast cereal are available? Multi-grain, extra fiber, gluten free. The possibilities are endless.

I took in a MLB baseball game last week–one of my favorite past-times. I love the roasted nuts and was happy to be able to get some. It was then that I encountered another unexpected hurdle. Which kind of nuts did I like? Pecans, almonds, or cashews? For the life of me, I couldn’t remember. It had been nearly two years since I’d had any of them. So which one was it that I liked? I took an uncomfortably long time to decide and in the end bought the mixed bag. Turns out it was the pecans that I liked.

It’s situations like this that I encounter repeatedly when visiting the U.S. There are so many things I never realized about my life here at the U.S. It’s only after being away that I notice all of these things.

Have you ever encountered culture shock? How did you deal with it? I’d love some tips to help!

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