Reverse Culture Shock

IMG_5126Sometimes things don’t go as planned. Sometimes things fall apart. Sometimes people fall apart. Goodness, even countries fall apart. And meteorites. And Nature Valley granola bars. Whether the cause was known or unknown, it happens and life goes on. Shit happens and the world keeps turning. I fell apart and I moved on. But poor poor Spain – the middle man of my transition. I owe you more than I can comprehend, Spain.

The reverse culture shock that followed my steps back onto the North American continent were anything but subtle. From an unexpected emotional night out in Minot with the girls, to becoming a stone cold stranger with her eyes on the sidewalk and no friendly chit chat in public (honestly, still working on that one), being home was not an easy adjustment.

I first heard of reverse culture shock within the first few weeks of my internship in Yaounde. The director of the school had sent out an article to my colleagues and I regarding the term and helpful ways to deal with it. I did find it more interesting than any usual mundane topic, but never did I imagine experiencing it myself to such an extreme degree. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term, reverse culture shock may occur when one returns to their home country and experiences culture shock within their own culture. It’s more common than you would believe. Below are tiny chronicled thoughts from my first few months of being home. I wanted to share them with you before moving onto blogging about my present situation.

Reverse Culture Shock:
Revelations in the home land as a local foreigner
As documented by Chlo’s forever broken iPhone she is too cheap to replace

  • Plugging things in without an adaptor (amazes me every time).
  • Being bit by a mosquito and having the “malaria” siren of panic go off immediately in your head.
  • Realizing how ridiculous my life is and having a complete emotional/mental breakdown at the most inconvenient time.
  • Remembering to pay parking meters.
  • Everything is so available, yet we waste so many valuable goods.
  • Just because a stranger is making small talk, does not mean they want something from you.
  • Driving like a normal person and following street rules, signs, and lights.
  • Trusting the food and not questioning its safety.
  • Farmer’s markets are not for bartering or price negotiation.
  • You can walk places by yourself and not have to look behind you every fourteen steps.
  • Being careful to be honest, but censoring any responses about my year by having a set and safe response to “tell me about Africa!”
  • Reminding myself to not spin Cameroon on replay in my head, grinding it into an unnecessary deep, bitter hate.
  • Understanding that others don’t understand, and that’s ok.
  • If someone barely touches you or gets in your way, they will apologize.
  • When you bump someone or barely get in their way, you need to apologize if you don’t want to be a terrible person.
  • Getting back in shape/ getting healthy and staying motivated to do so. AKA it’s safe for you to eat more than donuts and rice now.
  • Trying to fix my body and being denied a typhoid test at the hospital.. In Canada.
  • Living with parents again (I’m sure the feeling is mutual, right mom?!)
  • Processing that nothing has changed here but everything is different, mostly just myself.
  • Sitting on the back deck with my mom, watching the sun set and realizing leaving Africa was the best decision. Ever.


Life goes off course and it will never be understood completely, but the world will always turn. You have two choices: turn with it and tough it out or make a change, or you can stay in the dirt with the other half of the Nature Valley granola bar that didn’t make it into your mouth. With each new arising comes new personal life adjustments. It’s up to you if you want to keep your world spinning with the rest of us.


All my heart,


3 thoughts on “Reverse Culture Shock

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