My great friend Alex, a Professor of Tibetan History sent me an email the other day and asked me a question that really surprised me: “Hows your culture shock?” he wrote. And thinking about it, I realized Culture Shock is exactly what I am suffering from : heresthe Wiki definition :
“Culture shock is the anxiety, feelings of frustration, alienation and anger that may occur when a person is emplaced in a new culture”
But scrolling further down the page I came to this :
“Reverse Culture Shock (a.k.a. "Re-entry Shock", or "own culture shock") may take place — returning to one's home culture after growing accustomed to a new one can produce the same effects as described above. This results from the psychosomatic and psychological consequences of the readjustment process to the primary culture. The affected person often finds this more surprising and difficult to deal with than the original culture shock”
So it would seem I have been suffering from “Reverse Culture Shock” and according to another link, I “don’t have to feel ashamed because it happens to nearly everyone” – actually that was in relation to Culture Shock which apprently progresses through four phases : Honeymoon, Adjustment, Negotiation and Mastery, and eventually you become either a “Rejector” – and go back to where you came from, an “Adopter” and never go back to where you came from, or you create your own unique blend of habits derived from both cultures, and you are described as “Cosmopolitan” – which I rather like the sound of.
I certainly remember experiencing the Honeymoon Phase – back in New Zealand I found everything delightful and marvelous, from roads that werent just paved but had beautiful concrete guttering that was neat and clean, cars that were modern and clean , and mostly seemed almost brand new, people had lovley clean unpatched clothes and shoes without a single mark on them, clean haircuts and shiny healthy faces, and I understood every word.. In the musical ambience ofa Supermarket I walked about grinning from ear to ear, so impressive was the variety and volume of goods on display. I was especially impresed by the fruit and vege department where the nutritious vitality of every fruit and vegetable seemed to leap out at you. The carrots for example were all a fabulous bright orange and perfectly tapered from one end to the other and all about three times as long as the gnarly worm eaten ones I had been used to in Motta. Similarly, the tomatoes too were all perfect in their unblemished and bulging redness. I was surprised at my own delight in such a simple activity but realised the thrill probably wouldn’t last. What a pity that all too readily we take for granted the incredible richness and privilege and ease of life in the developed world! I cant name a more privileged and more beautiful country than New Zealand – and, actually I think in the main Kiwis are aware of it. It was so good to catch up with so many of my friends and family there.
So now I must be in the “Adjustment” or “Negotiation” Phase. I had a voracious appetite for junk food when I first got back but now I have regained my ability to say no to all the cakes and sweets and snacks that in short order replaced 3 of the 7kg I lost in Ethiopia., Having identified what was“wrong” with me has been useful, not that I think theres is actually something “wrong” and I certainly don’t intend to dismiss all the questions and anxieties and anger in my head as mere “readjustment process” And, after seeing on the Blog stats how many people are continuing to look for new posts from me I have decided to keep going with the Blog.. I had been wondering if I would. The Next Beginning.