Reverse Culture Shock
October 21st, 2016 by Arthi Chawla
Posted in Uncategorized|
Reverse Culture Shock: I’ve been home for 5 days. And I feel like I am getting back to normal, or whatever my new normal is. This is the 3rd time I have been Honduras, and I experienced reverse culture shock the first 2 times I went. This time, I expected to have more difficulty adjusting back to my life in the United States, since I was gone for a longer period of time. But, I haven’t. It actually has been much easier returning this time. I’ve been thinking about it all week, and I think there are a few reasons for this. One reason is because I know this won’t be the last time I go to Honduras. The last time I went, I was still in training, and the brigade I went on was through my training program. Once I left my program, I wasn’t sure how I would be able to continue to do this type of work.
This time, I went through INMED, and to a different location. I met a lot of people that taught me a lot, and people who will help me to return in the future. And I am very thankful for that. The other thing is I got through the honeymoon phase. For me, it was around the beginning of week 3 where I felt like the honeymoon phase was ending. At first, I was so excited to be there, and every bump in the road (both literal and figurative) was a fun new adventure. But at the beginning of week 3, I noticed the enthusiasm wearing off. The difficult things became difficult. But after a few days, it became normal. And by the end, I felt like I had finally adjusted to living there. Just in time to leave. The last 2 times, I was gone for only 2 weeks, not long enough for the honeymoon phase to end. With all of that being said, there have been a few things that have made me very confused:
- It is SO COLD. Today it was in the 50’s in Rochester, and I hid under a blanket all day and complained of how cold it was. This is certainly very different from Roatan. I remember my first night there. It must have been 80 degrees in my bedroom, and it was so hot I couldn’t sleep. And all I could think about was would I ever sleep for the next 4 weeks! Hint, it got cooler and I slept great.
- It is so quiet here, especially at night. I got used to the sounds of dogs barking, and the ocean crashing against the shore. Here, I live in a quiet, suburban neighborhood, and there certainly are not stray dogs wandering around, barking or jumping into the ocean.
- The nights are so bright. There were not a lot of lighting where I lived, and it got really dark. Here, there are so many streetlights, and houses have lights on all night.
- The water tastes so good. Although, I also think Rochester has the best tasting tap water in the USA.
- The days are longer, and I can get so much more done in the day. That is certainly a statement I never thought I would say about Rochester, NY. There, since it is close to the equator, the amount of daylight is consistent year round. The sun would rise around 5am, and set around 5:30pm. Since it would get so dark after sunset, I would not go far from home.
- The cars here are so nice, shiny, new and comfortable! Most of the cars there are fairly old, uncomfortable, but they used them until they would not run at all.
- There are lines on the road. I mean, traffic lines that divide the roads.
- The roads are so nice and smooth. I was driving down a road with my dad the other day, and he made a comment about how bad the road was and it was filled with potholes. I thought, man this is a great road! It was certainly similar to the roads I was on.
- The autumn leaves are beautiful! And everything is pumpkin flavored!
- I really miss baleadas.
I think experiences like this have more of an impact on the traveler, rather than the native people. I like to think that I made a huge impact, and that I saved someone’s life. In reality, I probably did not make a huge impact. And I am not being pessimistic or depressing. I am being realistic, about how much one person can do in 4 weeks. Ms. Peggy has been there for 17 years, and I am so impressed with how much she has achieved. But, just because I didn’t have a huge impact on the people there, doesn’t mean they didn’t have a large impact on me. I think it is important to understand that there is more to the world than besides what is outside your front step. And it is important to realize that difficulty and poverty in the United States, yes while terrible, is much better than poverty elsewhere.
But what is lacking in material wealth, is often made up for in the sense of community. People, for the most part, were very friendly, and neighborly. Since I didn’t have a working phone, I used to simply walk over and knock on my neighbors door if I needed something. One of my neighbors, who wasn’t affiliated with the clinic, brought over a delicious snack one day, just because. He is also the same neighbor that cut open a coconut for me with this machete. I had many people say hello to be while I was walking back and forth from the clinic. Obviously, not everyone is polite. But overall, it was more friendly than being here.
The point is, I won’t ever be the same person I was before I left. And I am thankful for that.