I have been home for about a week and a half. This has been the longest week and a half of my life, it seems. Going from Melbourne as it was entering its summer back to home as winter is coming (if not already here) would be very jarring – if I could keep my eyes open during the day. Hello jet lag my old friend. You would think after a week and a half I would stop effortlessly staying up well past 4 am and stop struggling to wake up by noon. You would also be very, very wrong in thinking that. I have seen far to many sunrises for my taste.
I am also entering a period of “what am I doing with my life?” Since my program ends so early, I am home, left to my own devices with nothing to employ them on. Most of my friends are still at university. I am slowly beginning to volunteer at one of my local hospitals (applications are still in the works.) As they are entering finals, I am almost halfway through the sixth book I’ve read since being home. Granted I do not envy their stress over tests and essays. But I really do miss feeling busy. After such a whirlwind semester, my life has gotten extremely quiet.
Let me be one of the first the say: REVERSE CULTURE SHOCK IS REAL. Australia and United States are very similar as far as culture is concerned . Mostly, I would have to say America has a greater appreciation for the term “go big or go home.” Everything here is just so much more than I remember. And quite frankly what I’ve gotten used to. Supermarkets, for example. In Oz, a quick trip to Woolworths meant a small grocery store that I could cover in under half an hour. Here, a “quick” trip to Walmart for Kroger means getting lost a minimum of 4 times looking for the coffee isle, running into people because I now walk on the wrong side here, and buying way more than I need. It’s exhausting. I remember being able to conquer a Walmart in my sleep. Now, it’s a nightmare when I need to get ice cream.
But other than hiding from grocery stores, things here are pretty much as I left them. The reverse culture shock plus the familiarity of home leads to the feeling that I’ve been gone for about 3 seconds, but also about 12 years. Everything is in its place, as it should be …. but I no longer have the muscle memories of doing everyday tasks. I remember how to work my coffee maker, but I can no longer eyeball the amount of water needed for a perfect cup. I remember that the ice machine is reluctant at first but then shoots out all the ice it can in 1 second, yet I still am surprised when the floor is covered after I’m done.
All in all, I am glad to be back. I miss Australia and the temporary home I made that didn’t feel temporary at all. But being home at last is readying me for my next adventure.