Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Reverse Culture Shocks

We've spent the past couple of years reading books and paying attention to articles about culture shock and learning how to live in a new and different culture.  We've also heard about reverse culture shock and how some say it can be harder.  I felt a little nervous about what it might feel like coming home, but thankfully, it did not feel very hard at all!  KJ says that instead of reverse culture shock, we experienced Reverse Culture Delight, by which he means, we just appreciate all the things that make up our home culture that we took for granted or never noticed before moving.  Noticing and appreciating is a by-product of moving to a new place where we noticed everything that was different and hopefully made good efforts at appreciating our new home.

We have made many adjustments and grown used to different things living in North Yorkshire, so there are some things that have made me feel shocked during our time in Alabama:

  • Heat!  Oh, my goodness, each time I walked outside and the sun hit my skin it felt like such a novelty, a very pleasing novelty.  I haven't grown tired of it.  But I wouldn't want to experience it without air conditioning.
  • Free plastic bags for all  Even before the new law in England charging 5 pence a bag I had grown used to bringing reusable grocery bags with me most of the time, so every time I stepped out of the car at the store here I've thought, "Oh, no!  I forgot my bags!"  Then I realized that I didn't need them.
  • So many red lights  I like traffic lights for the straightforwardness they bring to driving.  Knowing when to stop and go is much easier.  But roundabouts do keep things moving, and you don't have to come to so many complete stops.  I definitely noticed the red lights.
  • Just how large is a large drink?  I went through a drive-thru at Arby's one Sunday after church, and they asked if I wanted to upgrade my meal to a medium or large.  I went ahead and said large because I planned to split the fries between the kids.  When she handed me my drink I was shocked at how big it was.  Like, it was 64 oz. big maybe?  It was so big.  My expectations for how big a drink will be have obviously been drastically affected.
The following aren't things that are really shocking, but they're just nice side effects of being home:

  • I can park the car!  I've been driving a quite wide and large vehicle, but the parking spaces are so generously wide here, even I--the worst of car parkers--can do it easily.  
  • I feel good at driving.  Never underestimate how much easier it is to drive in the context you learned to drive in and that is familiar.
  • Free refills and ice everywhere  Each time I realize I can refill my drink before leaving the restaurant I get a little bit excited.
It's interesting to me that the things jumping out to me as being different are the very basic things that I experience and do every day of the week:  the weather, the shopping, driving, and eating at restaurants.  It's always the small things, isn't it?

a picture I took one afternoon when I was feeling happy about how
easy it was to park at KJ's doctor's appointment

As an addendum, I thought I would ask myself:  What have you most missed about living in North Yorkshire?

The walking!  The answer would definitely have to be the walking.  One Sunday afternoon I really felt like going for a walk, but it was so incredibly hot it was just completely out of the question.  One morning KJ and I were going to visit some friends that live near his parents and my first thought was to push him in his wheelchair and get some fresh air and exercise, but there aren't any sidewalks in this area, and we would have definitely drawn all sorts of strange looks, not to mention run the risk of being hit by a car.  Also, there's the heat and the mosquitoes.  The mosquitoes have definitely not been missed.


  1. This was lovely to read! :) So happy for you guys to get some family time!

    1. Thank you, friend! I look forward to the day we get to see each other face to face again!

  2. Yes to Reverse Culture Delight! This is how I have felt on each of my returns to the States. Delight. :) Happy for your delightful weeks spent among family and familiarity.

    1. Thank you, dear! It has been so good. We're really thankful.

  3. Let's go for a walk & catch up next week- before it gets too dark on the evenings.