Hallo alle sammen! Tonight I’ve decided to write about a topic that’s been at the back of my mind for some time now but hadn’t had time to meditate about: reverse cultural shock.
If you had told me about it at the beginning of last year, I would’ve thought it was impossible but guess what? now, speaking from experience, I can tell you it is very real.
As you may know by now, I’m in a long distance relationship with a Norwegian man and I travel to Norway every summer to spend time with him. Everything has been more than wonderful but I’m still living in Mexico… so basically we have a super long distance relationship. One would think the biggest hassle out of this relationship is the distance (9 hours away, a couple of continents apart) but that part was surprisingly easy to overcome. You see, the way my boyfriend sees it is “time flies, you’ll be back here in no time, we still talk every day, we skype often, etc.”; he keeps calm because he is very confident of our relationship and has probably the strongest will I’ve ever seen (lol). Norwegians know how to keep their cool.
I on the other hand…
Used to go crazy! I was impatient, impulsive, restless and I had lots of feelings! I couldn’t stand the distance at first, I was convinced I was going insane and there’s nothing I could do about it. Luckily, my boyfriend has always been there for me and helped me through my darkest hour. He taught me patience and stability with the great example he set for me, and for that- I’m eternally grateful.
I had the distance part down but something was still bothering me while being back home. I was feeling uncomfortable, shocked, even angry… like, I didn’t belong here. Things that used to be normal for me seemed wrong now. I started disagreeing with many of the things we do here, I started questioning local beliefs and such.
I never realized what it was until a friend of mine told me about a girl she knew, a Norwegian girl who had traveled to Mexico and fell in love with the country so much that when she went back to Norway, she experienced reverse culture shock, or culture shock in her own home country. My friend said she felt depressed because she couldn’t find herself back home and wanted to come back to Mexico ASAP. I felt instantly related to her story and realized that maybe, that’s the name of what I was going through.
Seeing new things, meeting new people, learning about a new culture completely changes you even when you’re not aware. Then you go back home and people assume you’re still the same but you’re not: you’ve changed. You might not be aware of it yourself but you realize after you’ve come back home and home feels out of place.
These are some of the things I used to do/think before Norway, in Norway, after Norway:
Before Norway: corruption and violence are a daily life activity in Mexico and I used to go with the flow, not minding it like we Mexicans learn to do. I was numb.
In Norway: corruption? violence? what is that? we don’t have those at the supermarket here. Have I told you how much we love the king? he’s an example for us all… and our government works flawlessly, do you know they give away free laptops?
After Norway: WHY IS THERE SO MUCH VIOLENCE AND WHY IS PEOPLE SO CORRUPTED? WE HAVE TO DO SOMETHING TO FIX THIS, THIS NEEDS TO CHANGE, I CAN’T LIVE LIKE THIS, WHERE IS THE CARING GOVERNMENT?
Before Norway: Northern Mexicans are so straight-forward, I’m glad people here aren’t two-faced nor fake.
In Norway: Wow, people are really straight-forward here; it was a bit much at first but I’m getting used to it. I like how a Norwegian will never tell you anything they don’t mean, it’s so refreshing. Definitely need this kind of honesty in my life.
After Norway: WHY ARE PEOPLE IN MEXICO SO FAKE AND HYPOCRITICAL? HOW CAN THEY BE LIKE THIS? I DON’T UNDERSTAND! I HATE THEM ALL! WHY CAN’T PEOPLE BE REAL AND STRAIGHT-FORWARD?
Before Norway: I was raised Catholic even though I’ve stopped going to church because having a personal relationship with God works for me better than attending an institutionalized place.
In Norway: ATHEISTS. ATHEISTS EVERYWHERE. Also, science. Yet, Norwegians seem to be the nicest, most caring and loving people I’ve ever met.
After Norway: WHY DO PEOPLE NEED RELIGION TO BE GOOD? WHY CAN’T THEY BE GOOD WITHOUT THE NEED TO BE THREATENED TO GO TO HELL? SO MUCH HYPOCRISY!
Before Norway: Oh yes, we have much equality in Mexican society, we’re not like in those countries where girls can’t even attend school. And about LGBT well, it could be better I guess.
In Norway: Ohhhhhh so this actually is what equality looks like? great! I love it! Gender equality even in the government, I can’t believe these numbers! Also, there’s no distinction from LGBT, it’s so normal that it’s not even seen as an “social issue”? even better!
After Norway: WHY ISN’T THERE GENDER EQUALITY IN MEXICO? WHY DO WE LIVE IN A MACHO DOMINATED SOCIETY? WHERE ARE MY RIGHTS AS A WOMAN? AND WHY ARE PEOPLE SO HOMOPHOBIC? JUST TREAT LGBT AS THE PEOPLE THEY ARE, GEEZ, WHY IS IT SO DIFFICULT TO ACKNOWLEDGE THEY HAVE RIGHTS TOO?
Before Norway: *taboo*
In Norway: Norway is the #1 country in one night stands. WOW. Even though Norwegians are very private about their intimacy, they’re not intimidated by it. They’re open to trying and exploring, and see sex as the natural human part of life that it is, with no prejudice whatsoever.
After Norway: *mind opens dramatically* sexuality is just as natural to humans as breathing or eating, right? why should anybody be intimidated by it? As long as you’re comfortable with it, everything’s fine.
WHY ARE PEOPLE SUCH PRUDES.
…And these are only five briefly explained aspects of my way of thinking that have changed ever since coming into contact with Norwegian culture. Even though for me is still a daily struggle to cope with this changes, I couldn’t be happier that my mentality has changed for the better. Thanks to this, today I’m a more open-minded, braver, daring, sharper, cleverer, more outspoken and opinionated human being who’s not afraid to think differently from the crowd. Currently, I pride myself in being capable of thinking with my own mind and standing up for what I find unfair.
Lastly, I want to thank this blog for showing me that I’m not alone and helping me through discovering what I’m experiencing: http://www.ytravelblog.com/dealing-with-reverse-culture-shock/