Going home & reverse culture shock

Going home felt as if I was exiting a movie theatre after watching a very, very long movie. A movie so interesting, with such a huge amount of characters and so many plot twists that I didn’t get bored for a second.

I was surprised the outside world still existed because I had completely forgotten about it. I was also a bit upset it had kept going without me, and that it didn’t mind me not being a part of it.

Not a lot had changed but I could notice minor details were different. The way things were didn’t feel right anymore, as if everything was out of place.

The outside world had no idea of all the things that happened to me in that theatre. How I had felt, what I had seen, the people I met – all the things I experienced which were all part of me now. It didn’t know how different I was going out from when I went in, how much I had changed. How much I had learnt…It expected me to act like I still belong. As if I still knew how to be in the real world.

I did not feel like I was a part of it anymore. I felt more connected with the movie-like world I had just spent a year in. Its customs, language, and manners were still rooted in my brain, while I hadn’t had the chance to practice the real world’s for so long.

What was surrounding me didn’t seem real anymore…This, was the movie now. Shapes were blurry, images and sounds felt like they had been through a million filters before they reached me. Nothing moved me. I couldn’t feel anything for days. I had never felt so confused. The thoughts that the movie kept going on somehow, somewhere was unbearable. It was impossible for me to comprehend how those two worlds could exist at the same time. It couldn’t be real. It had to be one or the other.

Then the movie started to fade away as I filled my brain with more and more images from the real world. It faded so much I began to doubt the movie ever happened. It all felt like a dream. A dream so vivid at the time…but now I wasn’t sure even happened.

***

Going home after a year abroad, I felt stuck in between two worlds. The only habits I had where now those of my life abroad, and those didn’t apply anymore. I didn’t know how to act at “home” again yet. I was trying so hard not to let go of “abroad” because it felt like it was all I had. Yet, I didn’t want to start living in the real world because I knew the more time I spent living in it, the more it would take over “abroad”.

It didn’t feel like I belonged in any of these worlds anymore. I had forgotten how both felt. I now had to learn how to deal with feeling in-between because that feeling was not going to go away.

 “You can’t go back home to your family, back home to your childhood, back home to romantic love, back home to a young man’s dreams of glory and of fame, back home to exile, to escape to Europe and some foreign land, back home to lyricism, to singing just for singing’s sake, back home to aestheticism, to one’s youthful idea of ‘the artist’ and the all-sufficiency of ‘art’ and ‘beauty’ and ‘love,’ back home to the ivory tower, back home to places in the country, to the cottage in Bermude, away from all the strife and conflict of the world, back home to the father you have lost and have been looking for, back home to someone who can help you, save you, ease the burden for you, back home to the old forms and systems of things which once seemed everlasting but which are changing all the time–back home to the escapes of Time and Memory.” –Thomas Wolfe

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