“Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.” – Albert Einstein
If you have ever studied abroad or have done some type of living abroad you may be familiar with the saying of “you won’t be the same when you return” or “your view of the world around you will change.” Now, this is not to say I don’t believe this cannot happen with those who are only abroad for a short amount of time…on the contrary, I think anyone who travels abroad will change just ever so slightly. But, speaking from experience living abroad does have an everlasting effect on you. Not only while you are there, but when you return.
Its been two years since I returned from Korea. I’m writing this now, so unfortunately I’ve forgotten a lot about my thoughts of when I returned home. But, what I can see after looking back is I found a love for learning more about the different cultures of the world. I found a need to learn more about the world and of course, myself. Because of this I was determined to go abroad again. I had no clue as t how I would get there and if you had told me that in a year I would be heading to Germany for six months I probably would’ve laughed. But, now its been two years and I’ve just returned from my second exchange.
This time the feeling for me is completely different. I can actually feel the changes. Weird right? I don’t know if anyone else has had a similar experience, but I can actually feel myself trying to adapt everything around me because it’s just not what I’ve come to expect anymore. I find myself stimulated by conversations dealing with international development, politics and current events (which if you had met me two years ago, would not have been the case). I’m constantly looking for the next step and I can actually see myself making big contributions.
However, even though I’m noticing these confidence booster changes, I’m also starting to realize how different I am to those around me. Sometimes it becomes hard to have conversations with people because they are not interested in what I’m saying and vice versa. I find myself questioning the institutions the country is currently based on. Are they really beneficial to us? With the upcoming presidential election I find myself bewildered at how people can use hate and discrimination as a platform for change?
You may be wondering, “Shouldn’t you have realized this before?” To be honest, you are probably right. But, the fact is..I am now and that is all that matters to me.
So the truth is, yes you will change. The orientations you go through when they talk about “reverse culture shock” is all true. Sometimes the changes can be good or bad and sometimes they can be both. In my case the changes are good. It is good for me to realize these things and to have a better understanding of myself and the world around me.
Until next time my friends!
p.s. – It’s not a bad thing to question things around you and it’s not a bad thing to change. If you embrace them, it may just take you to better places.