After being away for six months, it’s hard to realize just how much I’ve changed. I am especially surprised at how quickly I adapt to different ways of life in a new culture.
When I come home from long trips, it’s always tied to a little bit of reverse-culture shock. I sometimes feel odd and disoriented or I find myself questioning the things around me and why it’s done that way. Then I wonder how I could ever forget what home was like. It’s an odd strangeness of being home.
Here’s a list of the things I found peculiar when I came back from six months away in South America:
1. Everyone looks just like me. My blonde hair does not stand out in Canada.
2. I can throw toilet paper into the toilet bowl instead of in a waste basket. (I still feel very guilty when doing this though.)
3. I can listen in on and understand everything about any conversation going on around me.
4. When I hear a Canadian accent, I am excited to find someone else from my country.Case in point: I turned around at the grocery store the other day about to ask the girls behind me where in Canada where they were from. Then I realized: we’re all Canadian.
5. It is so easy to read and understand everything around me. It’s all in a language I speak fluently.
6. The French on all my shampoo bottle and cereal boxes is throwing me off. Where is my Spanish!?
7. No one catcalls me as I walk down the street and I don’t have to worry about awkwardly pretending I can’t hear anything. Thank goodness.
8. I remembered perfectly how to drive a car.
9. Soft ice cream at Dairy Queen: $3. Soft ice cream in Latin America: $1.
10. I need to remind myself to wear a seat-belt.
11. My closet. Where did all these new, exciting, and colorful clothes come from?
12. I need to quell the automatic response of asking someone where they’re heading next, where they’ve been, and what country they’re from.
13. It’s weird seeing snow that isn’t only experienced at +4000 metres above sea level.
14. I no longer feel awkward talking to someone because I might not understand absolutely everything they’re saying to me.
15. It’s hard to not reply in Spanish.
16. Every night I can have a hot shower with consistent water pressure. It’s heavenly.
17. I can’t be late anymore. In South America, it was not only socially acceptable but no one even thought you were late in the first place.
18. I love being able to drink water out of a tap and not have to buy bottled water.
19. I need to remember to carry house and car keys with me when I leave for the day.
20. It’s odd to not greet people with a kiss on the cheek.
It was autumn when I left, spring when I returned – essentially the world looks the exact same six months later and I could easily just step back into my life as it was before I had life changing experiences for half a year on another continent.