Tuesday, December 14, 2010

In the US

So far the single hardest thing that I've faced is trying to explain to a couple of friends why I at least somewhat seriously considered whether quitting made sense.  I realize that last sentence ends clunkily, but I intentionally thought about it like that, as a way of considering quitting without really considering it.  Its hard for me to gauge how close I really came, though there is no denying that it was a possibility, even if not that likely.  Now back in the US, it seems obvious that I would stay the entire year, yet at times it definitely was not a foregone conclusion.

At the time the thought of quitting seemed so tantalizing.  I had gone to another country to do a job I had no experience in voluntarily and at the times when I was struggling the hardest, to just up and leave had an undeniable appeal.  I never wrote about it at the time because I worried that even saying it out aloud would make it seem more realistic.  Now it seems absurd.  Life here in the US is clearly not perfect and I was doing what I wanted to do, something few people can say, given the economy and the vagaries of life.

I am extremely glad that I made it the entire year.  Its hard to overstate how glad I am, though of course some of that is the inevitable justification for past actions. Still, things improved so much once August 1st came, that I would have missed out on so many of the best parts of the year.  In May I had no reference point for how much of my struggles were culture shock and how much was being a new teacher.  In August, I was more or less over my culture shock and while I was a better teacher, the teaching  also seemed so much less intimidating because I had created a home for myself in the community.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Back to the US

Culture shock is a pretty straightforward concept, when someone moves to a different culture and has to adjust to the new culture.  What I am more interested in seeing how it effects me is reverse culture shock, starting when I return to the US tomorrow.  At first it seems strange that I would feel out of place in my own culture, especially considering I will be staying with my parents again in the same situation as when I left.

Still, many former WorldTeach volunteers say that the reverse culture shock is harder to deal with than the initial culture shock. That you have worked to become accustomed and build a home in a new country, and now you have to go back to a culture which seems familiar but in fact at least I will have not experienced for almost a year.

I will be home tomorrow night assuming my travel goes according to plan.  Crazy.