Reverse Culture Shock

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After 35 hours of travel, we made it safely to Oregon! It’s spring time here and everyone is talking about the weather warming up but we’re freezing cold. We’re staying with my parents in Dallas, they have a beautiful property that is so peaceful; making this huge adjustment easier for us.

We’ve been back in America for 5 days and it feels strange. We are finding America to be a very strange place. It’s a foreign land all over again. The biggest shock of being home are all the little things that you wouldn’t expect. Driving everywhere, the overwhelming amount of choices, the fast pace of life (people’s quick immediate responses) and the cost of things all feel so different. Everyone speaks english, so we feel like everyone is talking to us or trying to get our attention all the time.

Missionaries talk about “re-entry” when coming back from “the field”. Most of what you do, you don’t even think about. You hug relatives and most friends when you see them, you shake hands when you meet a stranger, you say “bless you” when someone sneezes, you wipe the soles of your shoes on a mat when come inside and you wait in line at the grocery store; but these are all only cultural norms here in Oregon that you only notice once you’ve been away and haven’t been doing any of them.

Our friends and family are super awesome and have been giving us time to do whatever we want and not rushing us into anything. We are seeing doctors but still don’t have any answers yet. One of the first things we did was go to the doctor and the contrast between the hospital in Rwanda and the doctors office in Monmouth Oregon was intense. Most of our friends have been involved in missions or in traveling somehow so they understand the feeling of being back home. With most people you can’t really describe what reverse culture shock feels like other than “weird”, “surreal” or “overwhelming” but those vague descriptions don’t really convey how your feeling. We’re thankful for our awesome friends who completely understand.

For the most part, we’re having a great time here and adjusting really well. The first time I came back from Africa, it was a totally different story. I wasn’t expecting to have reverse cultural shock; making it a lot harder. The most difficult thing was that I had changed so much and it was hard to explain what happened. People seemed uninterested in what was to me, the most life-changing experience of my life so far. I did not deal with it well to say the least. Now I know it will take time and that I don’t have to be the person I was, I have changed even though it feels like home hasn’t. I could go on and on but basically this meme sums up our feelings…

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We still don’t know our plans, we are waiting to here back from doctors and taking it one step at a time. We do know that we will be living in the green tiny house on my parents property while we figure everything out. We’re super excited to show you around the “hill house” as my parents named it; it’s an awesome little house that totally off-grid.

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2 thoughts on “Reverse Culture Shock

  1. Hi Guys, Great to hear you are back and have a place to live. I know what you mean by reverse culture shock; although it wears off after a while, when it does you also kinda wish it hadn’t too! Things that you have lived without and are no longer important are priorities for first world friends and it’s confusing re adjusting to a different value system. Let us know how things are going and we’ll continue to pray for you. Bless you. Steve and Liz

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