Well, kids, I am finally coming out from my reverse culture shock. It only took almost 3 months.
I definitely went through ALL of the stages. The best thing was, I knew what I was getting into, and I thought I could beat it.
I started in the Honeymoon stage, visiting family and old friends, soaking in my new life in America. Everything felt as if it was falling into place.
Then I hit the Culture Shock. I realized I was living at home again with no internet, no money, no freedom. So I dove into projects around the house trying to regain some sense of sanity. I also found a part time job selling coffee and books to make a bit of spending money.
Even though I felt as if I was making progress through the culture shock in my Initial Adjustment phase, I still felt like I was losing my individuality that I worked so hard to build in Japan. I also could see my bank account BLEEDING money, no matter how many paychecks I received. Going from $3000/month to about $600/month screwed me up a lot. This on top of trying to maintain an international relationship really just put way too much stress on me. So, the easiest thing to do was just withdraw. Take myself out of the equation.
This lead to the Mental Isolation stage. I started avoiding everyone intentionally at first but then it became second nature to not reply to texts or calls, or to initiate any kind of contact with the people close to me. I had a better relationship with my Netflix account and the staff at fast food places than my own family and friends. This went on for months, and I tried to push it all away and put on a brave face at work and in front of people I needed to associate with. I would come home exhausted and emotionally drained.
And through it all, I have come to the Acceptance and Integration stage. Maybe it has something to do with school starting in a few weeks. 10 lbs later, or should I say heavier, I joined a gym, and I am trying to go regularly. I get along with my coworkers and genuinely think they like me too. I am trying to honestly assess who is valuable to me in life and trim the fat. So much time away changes so much, and it’s hard to see it at first, and it’s also hard to tell someone you care about, “there is really nothing keeping us together anymore” no matter if they are a friend, partner, or even family member.
I can not believe it will be August next week. It is hard for me to fathom because I pretty much spent this summer in a culture shock induced coma.
I’ve learned that this is something everyone has to deal with in their own time. Culture Shock or reverse culture shock cannot be avoided. It will sneak up on you and wreck your shit unless you’re prepared to go along for the ride.