Turns Out, I’m Not Immune To Reverse Culture Shock

People talk about (Reverse) Culture Shock nearly as often as they do Jet Lag – both being unfortunate side effects to traveling abroad. In true Lindsay fashion, I’d like to think I’m never seriously plagued by either, as I am extraordinarily well-adjusted (and humble, *cough*). No but really, I usually deal with Jet Lag well. And before my trip to Asia, I’d never been immersed in a culture so different from my own, so I’d never had a chance to experience Reverse Culture Shock.

Until now. Oh yeah, it’s happening – and I’m not coping well.

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That costs HOW MUCH?!

I’ve just come from a land where $5 can get you a multi-course meal, foot massage, or hotel room. Now, I’m lucky if $5 gets me a sandwich (lookin’ at you, Subway). I spent $100 on groceries within the first few days of being back in NYC. This comes as no surprise, but it’s still painful.

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I miss London

London surprised me with magnificent weather for 2 straight weeks. Constant sun and blue skies are unheard of here – I still can’t believe my luck. I was outside every day biking, picnicking, and frolicking – ahh, the good life.

And yes, I may also miss Hot Arms a bit. We would switch off cooking each other meals every day and wind down with wine and a movie every night. It was a wonderful transition from the backpacking life in Asia to ‘real life’ in NYC, with a comfortable mix of routine and adventure. I definitely could have stayed longer than my 2.5 weeks, but alas.

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I’m unemployed and almost broke

I KNEW this was what I signed up for when I decided to put my life on pause in NYC and travel the world for 5.5 months – but it didn’t hit me until my savings account hit the lowest it’s ever been since I graduated college. I’m not only frugal when traveling – I’m also pretty frugal IN LIFE, always sure to keep a nice cushion of savings beneath me. (Side note: If you don’t ever want to feel like you’re living paycheck-to-paycheck, build up your savings!)

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Well, that cushion is wearing very thin at this point. And now that I’m back in NYC, I’m welcomed back by mounting bills that will keep thinning out that cushion of savings. I need to make a move, and FAST in order to stay afloat – but…

I don’t know what I want to do next

This is equal parts invigorating and daunting. I’ve been alternating between feeling like anything is possible, and feeling like I’m about to vomit from the uncertainty. Before I left for Asia, I had resolved that by the time I returned to NYC in the summer, I would have a game plan for what’s next in my life.

Well, I thought about it a lot. I talked about it a lot. But I don’t feel like I’m any closer to figuring out my future. Turns out, you can’t have life-changing epiphanies on cue. These things can’t be forced. All I can do is be open to all sorts of experiences and opportunities and ride them out as far as they’ll take me.

I may not have figured out yet what I’m meant to do with my life, or where I’m meant to be – but that doesn’t mean I can’t figure out what my next intermediary step is. So that’s what I’m tasking myself with now: figuring out my next step – even if it’s just a small one – even if there are many, many more steps to take before I finally figure it all out.

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I have to keep reminding myself that nothing is permanent. If I commit to a next step and it ends up being a mistake, then I can always make another change.

One thing I DO know: I’m certainly not going to figure anything out if I stay complacent. I don’t want to remain in a city or at a job just because it’s easier to. So whatever I decide my next step to be, you can be sure that balls will be required (metaphorically speaking, of course).

How do you deal with reverse culture shock?

Lindsay Buckley is the photographer and travel blogger behind Frugal Frolicker. She’s a New Yorker currently based in Sydney, Australia, documenting outdoor travel experiences Down Under and beyond.

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  • Beth

    Keep calm and carry on! Your spirit and determination will open doors!

    • lindsaypunk

      Thank you, Beth! I’ve got to keep telling myself that – it’s just that period *before* doors start opening that’s so daunting right now!

  • Melvyn

    Life is ever changing, but you are a trooper, so you will find solutions. Life is fluid and will always be interesting and daunting. You took the opportunity to enrich your mind with all new stuff and enjoying delicious food and seeing so much wonders. You do have Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations to choose from now. Your kindred spirit will take you anywhere you want!

  • lindsaypunk

    Ah, words of wisdom from my favorite Dutchman :) Thanks for the reassurance!