825 days of shower shoes and throwing toilet paper in trash cans. 825 days of persistent, public phlegm-hacking and depending on miming to attempt rudimentary communication. 825 days of dreaming of baked brie on baguettes and caramelized crepes smothered in Belgian chocolate.
825 days of fantasizing about the first taste of a Lagunitas IPA hitting my lips and drinking copious amounts of wine. Oh, 825 days of dreaming of wine!
825 days is a long time. It’s a long time to be gone from your family and friends. It’s certainly long enough to miss all of the comforts of home, like dryers, ovens, paper towels and bathtubs.
It was 825 days from the auspicious day I left San Francisco in 2011, embarking on my Korean adventure, to when I finally arrived back on American soil for Christmas 2013.
Looking back now, it’s almost comical how much I was dreading the return home. I still felt such excitement and a continuously growing love for my everyday life in Korea. I didn’t feel any inherent pull to go back home. Of course, I was excited to devour unreal amounts of cheese, guzzle ungodly quantities of bubbly rosé and enjoy the company of my good ole’, homegrown friends and family.
I had heard from previous ex-pats who had returned home after a few years that returning to the US can be a brutal transition. The word on the street was that reverse culture shock was significantly more jarring on the return from Korea.
So, I went back home with low expectations.
I was home for 56 days. Some days were adventure-filled and other days were spent snuggling with loved ones. I went from San Francisco, California (my last “home” in the US) to my hometown of St. Louis, Missouri. I went skiing in the great big Rockies. I journeyed around the Midwest during the Polar Vortex, bouncing around Des Moines, Iowa, Chicago, Illinois and Minneapolis, Minnesota.
I explored up and down the coast of Northern California, laid amongst the ancient Redwoods and consumed delicious craft brews. All of this in a warp-speed 56 days.
Most unexpectedly, I’m thrilled to say that I rediscovered a passionate love for my home country.
825 days is a long time. It’s long enough to miss your home, get totally comfortable living in another country (and to think that perhaps you’ll never return home), and it’s long enough to forget how great it feels to come back full circle and be home.
Lot’s of goodies on the way!
Good on you! I think the low expectations might have been the key. (I run a site on reverse culture shock and lots of people have told me that when they’re really excited about going home or visiting home, then that’s when the worst happens!).
@Amanda Thanks for the comment! I think the low expectations certainly did help. Honestly, the largest inconvenience I experienced was not being able to read in public places… all that English everywhere!
825 days IS a long time, wow. Did you return back to Korea after your 56 days back in the states? I’ve just moved back to the states after teaching for 7 months in Thailand and although I haven’t experienced much culture shock, it’s been hard trying to figure out what direction to take my career in. Bleh!
Hello @elstadl! Thanks for the comment. I did return to Korea after my short stint at home! I went home with plans already in place to come back. It is challenging to know what to do next! I’m in the same boat as I consider the possibilities after this year’s contract is up. It’s exciting!