So its been a little over 48 hours since I landed back in D.C. and now that my body is adjusting to the time I am preparing for the reverse culture shock that I can see has already begun.
Reverse culture shock is the same as culture shock, in that the disorientation, overwhelming feelings, and longing for the familiar becomes just as pronounced when you return home from a long trip, as when you first arrived in the country you were visiting or living. There are lots of manuals and advice about how to cope with reverse culture shock, including this article on Forbes called “Home sweet Home? Dealing with reverse Culture shock”.
While I had barely slept for 2 days,when I woke up on the plane as we were landing in D.C. all my experiences in Uganda and Tanzania felt like a dream. This feeling has only become more pronounced as the days continue. The fact that East Africa is half a world away has only increased the feeling that perhaps it was just a dream. However, the reality of my own changed perspective, in addition to the slight tan that I acquired, makes the two and half months very real.
The realization of reverse culture shock has been with very minor occurrences. Brushing my teeth with the water coming from the tap, let alone drinking water straight from the tap.
That D.C. is actually a quiet city has been a surprising realization. I didn’t think this when I first arrived in D.C. in September, but now having been in city’s big and small, bombarded by the sounds of countless motorcycles, honking horns, people yelling(trying to get you to ride their bike, or board their taxi/bus), the bump and crash as big trucks bounce through the huge potholes, and the trucks blaring music to sell tickets to a party, or club or whatever. These sounds make D.C. seem like a quiet country village.
Being able to eat any food I find anywhere in the city and not worry about cleanliness. I know this may not be entirely true, but knowing the systems and checks we have work in keeping food safe, is reassuring.
Walking anywhere at anytime, not feeling stifled by the admonishing of locals about the safety of the city. I had my haircut yesterday and my stylist said her friend was robbed at machete point in Tanzania while walking with a large group of friends. I’m very lucky and glad I didn’t experience this, but I knew it was a very real possibility, and not just because I was white, and would stand out, but because they think I have money. That this happens to the locals in Uganda and Tanzania was why I never walked alone at night, in fact I rarely went out at night. I think I went out maybe 6 times. I am going to talk more about this feeling of vulnerability in a future post.
I have also been aware of just how much food we have available, and are able to keep at home in our refrigerators with our constant and reliable power supply.
As I transition back I will continue writing about both my reintegration and the experiences of being in Uganda.