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Culture Shock

by Gail Mooney
August 5 2010

I’ve been there before –suffering from culture shock – after coming back to the U.S. after being out of the country for an extended period of time.

Erin in Kathmandu, Nepal

It’s jarring and familiar at the same time. Many of you reading this, who have the same penchant for wanderlust that I do can certainly relate to what I’m talking about.

It’s jarring to come back to the American culture after being overseas, especially after a journey like this. I’ve been away from the pundits on TV, “the religion of celebrities” and the competitive pace of our culture for the past 70 days. And I’ve been immersed in the cultures where I’ve been, much more than if I had just been touring the sites. On top of that, the people that I’ve been with over these past two months have been the most inspirational and selfless people that I have ever met. I’ve been immersed in the “culture of sharing” for 70 days.

I have four days at home before we depart for the next leg of our journey, to the jungles of Peru and Buenos Aires, Argentina. My first two days have been spent dealing with the “urgencies” – getting my gear cleaned, my laundry done, my mail and email caught up and getting tuned back into my real world commitments. My jetlag had to be put on hold to catch up on my “normal” life, but at the same time look ahead and prepare for South America. I’m also trying to keep a part of my mind focused on this project because this is not the end of our journey, but just a pit stop along the way.

As far as the comfort of familiarity by being home, that has been wonderful but an adjustment as well. My husband and I have been solo acts for the past two months and in different mindsets so even the familiar has been somewhat jarring but good. And then there have been those moments when “my familiarity” had been modified like finding out that Tom had switched our cable service from cable to fios and all the channels had been changed. Stupid little things like that can throw you off and when I just wanted to turn to TCM on channel 67 to watch an old movie classic and that station wasn’t there anymore, I had a meltdown.

Today is day three, I’ve had a wonderful night’s sleep and have gotten through the urgent matters. I still haven’t gotten the courage yet to look through my mail – but I have that on today’s “to do” list. Four days is a quick turn around but maybe just enough time to recuperate yet not lose momentum on our project. As far as the culture shock I’ve gone through – it’s what I expected – it’s what’s meant to happen. That goes along with the I purpose of this journey – to open our collective eyes.

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