Before coming back to the States, I read several articles about ‘repatriation’ or ‘reverse culture shock’. The gist being that it can be harder to come back home then move to an entirely new country. As happens, I believed that this wouldn’t apply to me so much because I wanted to go home; I wanted to be back in America so for me there would be little to no culture shock.
And as happens, I was kinda wrong.
To say that I am happy to be back in San Diego is an understatement. This morning I went to breakfast with two of my nephews and my heart just melted as I looked at their sweet faces from across the table. The other day I had lunch with a friend I hadn’t seen in about five years and we laughed for most of the time over Thai food. Also, my parents simply could not have done any more to make me feel at home. Also, don’t get me started on Target. Generally, there are so many little aspects about the States that I appreciate and love, it would be difficult to name them all.
But still, it’s been a challenge in many, many aspects. After seven years of living elsewhere, it is slow going. And I don’t know how to explain it. I know I have changed a lot over the past seven years. Being back in the city I grew up in, I can’t remember how to get places or those places have changed/moved/gone. Friends and their families have grown/changed and I simply have not been here to be a part of it all. On top of that, I have made some major personal and professional changes within my life (particularly within the last year and a half) so I feel a bit like boat without a rudder.
In my own hometown, I don’t know where I fit in.
Recently, I read an article on the BBC website called, ‘Why you should keep a connection with your expat country’ which I found enlightening, particularly this quote:
… ask(ing) yourself what elements of your expat experience and your new self you want to retain, and then working to incorporate these into your new daily life.
As I struggle to find my sea legs, I am taking this advice to heart. I have begun to think about what it was that I enjoyed so much about living abroad, particularly living in Istanbul.
With all of this in mind, how do I go about creating a new life in such a recognizable yet unfamiliar place? Right now, I am making it up as I go along!