Not Prepared for Homecoming

Prior to my departure, every minute was devoted to preparing for “The Trip”. I intently studied maps, diligently prepped my tongue (and stomach) for the cuisine, and reluctantly made visits to the health department. I was prepared.

After 20+ hours of travel, I finally touched down. The air was hot, the airport outdated and deserted. I thought to myself, remember the advice you were given, “Do not step foot outside the airport. Once you do, you will be entering the Sea of Beggars, and there is no going back…”

Going through customs was fine. Baggage claim was a pain. After what seemed like an eternity, I grabbed my Kelty backpack, and went into the dingy bathroom. I hid my passport and money in my bra, and from there, I advanced to the Sea Of Beggars; prepared.

Despite having an uninvted guest the first night (a cockroach the size of a small dog), the rest of my trip was great! I drank lots of San Miguel beer (the water is unsafe you know), ate various unknown meats from street vendors, and took jeepney trips on washed out roads though the hills of Benguet. “When in Rome, do as the Romans”, and that is exactly what I did. The trip was life changing and unforgettable for many reasons. I had thoroughly prepared myself for everything, there were no surprises. It was perfect.

Then…I returned to the US. Honolulu Hawaii. I boarded a bus, sat down, and was immediately reprimanded for not paying my fare upon entrance. Then, when crossing the street, was told, you could be ticketed for crossing the street when the red hand is flashing…remember?”.

This is when I realized, I was not prepared for my homecoming. I did everything possible to ensure I had a great trip…but never realized that I might actually have culture shock when I returned home. Interesting huh? Maybe the Lonely Planet needs to add a chapter…

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Sarah F on January 27, 2011 at 9:13 pm

    I had the absolute worst culture shock every time I returned to the States from France (I lived there for 16 months.) It never got better. Probably didn’t help that I kept flying into Texas though… I still get culture shock every time I go home! It is interesting, though, to see something that is so familiar but with eyes that do not recognize it at all.

    Reply

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