June 4, 2003

By Michael Strickland

Culture Shock

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 place.

More recently, I became used to a slower and in many ways richer lifestyle after spending six weeks traveling 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.

The Merriam-Webster 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 excursions.

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.


©2003 Michael Strickland ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

What is "The Daily Strick"?

I have long called myself a writer, but too often I don't do what a writer must do daily: write. So you, dear reader, are the beneficiary of my resolution to make a positive change in at least one area of my life. Every single day of this new year (almost), I will write something, anything, and post it here. It is my intention to use this daily exercise to jump-start my too-long-dormant creative energies, and perhaps generate some worthwhile material this year. Hopefully you will find at least an occasional amusement or insight in my daily musings.

Today's Column
Send a Comment

June Columns:

6/30: Halfway There
6/27: 28 Days Later
6/26: I Am a Racist
6/24: America the Obese
6/23: Reality TV Sells
6/20: June Gloom
6/18: Hatch's Hollywood Hacking
6/16: Qualcomm Stadium
6/15: Happy Father's Day
6/14: Flag Day
6/13: Friday the 13th
6/12: Extreme
6/9: Spammed
6/8: Lack of PLANning
6/7: When Grass Attacks
6/4: Culture Shock
6/1: The Baja 500
Previous months in The Archive

Like what you've read?
Find more good reading on

In Association with Amazon.com

(and support future Daily Stricks!)