Returning home to the United States 20 years ago
after spending a year living in Honduras as a
virtual native Honduran, I experienced as much of a
shock as I did traveling abroad in the first place.
After spending so much time becoming accustomed to
a different people and a different way of life,
things back Stateside seemed odd and out of
More recently, I became used to a slower and in
many ways richer lifestyle after spending six weeks
through Italy. Hopping from town to town, I
quickly became used to lazily sightseeing in the
morning, ordering a panino and beer in broken
Italian for lunch and taking a long afternoon nap.
Coming home to a stressed-out, post-9/11 America
broke that bubble pretty fast.
Lately, I've experienced culture shock on
Mondays following even brief weekend getaways. That
doesn't mean that the current state of my life
makes such a return to "reality" after a weekend of
traveling stressful. Rather, the people with whom
I've shared my recent
travels have been so fun that real life pales
besides the good times I've been having.
dictionary defines culture shock as "a sense of
confusion and uncertainty sometimes with feelings
of anxiety that may affect people exposed to an
alien culture or environment without adequate
preparation." After racing my Ford Explorer
off-road for the first time in Joshua Tree dirt,
drinking tequila around the campfire with new
friends and finding out what a "Boobie-Q" is, my
everyday life on Monday morning has often seemed
like "an alien culture or environment." I've
definitely felt "confusion," "uncertainty" and
"anxiety" to varying degrees following my weekend
But that's a good thing. Life is too damn short
not to enjoy it while I can. I've lost friends
younger than me, and others have faced such grave
challenges as cancer and other health issues.
Tomorrow, al Qaeda might strike again. Or a SARS
epidemic might break out. Or I might meet the
business end of a city bus. Culture shock is good,
because it reminds me that I'm seizing the day. I
wouldn't want it any other way.
Strickland ALL RIGHTS