I was expecting reverse culture shock
It didn’t happen, until…
About a year ago when Feyma and I decided that we would move back to the United States, she told me that I might have a hard time adjusting to life in the USA, after being gone for so long.
We were not overly worried about Feyma adjusting, because for each of the previous two years she had spent time in the USA, and had already made the adjustment.
Because of what she told me, I did some research and found that when you experience “culture shock” when you return “home”, that is called Reverse Culture Shock. The more research I did on the topic, the more I expected that I would have a problem.
When we arrived in Indiana
On January 17, we arrived in Indiana. It was very different from what we were used to. The first thing that hit me in the face was when I stepped out of the airport door onto the sidewalk and it was around 35 degrees. It was very cold compared to the 80s and 90s that we were used to for the pst 20 years.
The weather only got worse. In less than a week after our arrival, it was 45 degrees below zero (wind chill factor). Although this kind of weather was indeed shocking, I took it in stride and I forced myself to adjust.
Just about every part of life was challenging for me. Bid adjustments. Things were much different from the Philippines. To be honest, things were much different from when I last lived in the USA, back in the 90s.
I forged ahead
Even though there were a lot of personal challenges, I forged ahead. I took everything in stride, accepted those things, and pushed myself to make the necessary adjustments.
My attitude of acceptance seemed to be working. I thought that I was not experiencing reverse culture shock. I was handling everything.
Reverse culture shock? It was not affecting me.
After 6 months
After having been here for about 6 months, my life started getting more difficult. Not really much in the way of bad things happening, just I realized that I was struggling with my feelings.
Should I move back to the Philippines?
I recently talked with Feyma about my feelings. I had more or less kept my feelings private, thinking that it was just a phase that I would pass through.
When I talked to Feyma, she asked me, “do you want to move back to the Philippines?”
Do I want to move back to the Philippines?
Truth is, I don’t have a desire to move back to the Philippines. I won’t say I will never move back, maybe we will retire there when the time comes.
But, my feeling is that I have lived a long time in the Philippines, and I was ready to move on. Ready to go to the next chapter of my life. That new chapter is not in the Philippines.
There are people I miss in the Philippines. But, I would not say I miss my life in the Philippines or want to go back at this time.
What kinds of problems am I experiencing?
The biggest issue I have is loneliness. During the late afternoon until the early hours of the morning, my wife and 2 kids are at work. I am home alone. I am also working during those hours. I work at home doing reselling – eBay, Amazon, that kind of thing.
I enjoy my work, but I just miss having people around. It is quiet in the house every afternoon/evening.
Another problem I have is just understanding the way some things work here. There have been so many changes in society here, in the way things get done, etc. It can be confusing.
I find myself calling my closest friend, LeRoy and asking him “stupid” questions of things that I really should know, but these are things that happened during my time away, and I am just trying to catch up and learn how everything works.
How can I remedy these issues?
As for the loneliness, I have a few ideas.
I have been looking into getting involved in the big brother program. I like kids, and getting involved helping a kid that does not have a father or something like that, would be very rewarding to me. I read an article a while back saying that the big brother program had been discontinued in this area last year. However, when I talked to a friend today, he said that he thinks that the program still exists. I will look into that more.
My friend also suggested that I might want to talk to some people at the local high school about doing some mentoring for kids that are interested in business or something like that. I think I would enjoy that, and I also think that I could offer some good information to such kids.
As for the other issue I mentioned, catching up with the many changes, I think the only real way to deal with that is to give it time. Learn the things that I missed out on. This will require more help from my friends, and I know that they will be willing to help me with those things.
My final conclusion
In the end, the best thing I can say is that I have learned that Reverse Culture Shock is real. I did not realize that I was experiencing that until recently, but looking back, I would say that the past 2 months or so I have really been dealing with the problem.
I’ll overcome it. It just takes time. It took me time to adjust to living in the Philippines too, of course.
I feel like an immigrant in my own country.