It’s been almost two months since coming back to Austin, Texas after living a year in the beautiful country of Brazil. I remember arriving to the largest airport in Brazil, Sao Paulo, to catch my flight to Dallas, Texas. Many thoughts raced through the tracks of my mind. Will everything just fall back into place? Will I feel home? Have I changed? I had no idea as to the answers for these questions that loomed in the back burner of my mind since the thought of returning to Texas became a reality. When you leave your home to live in a different country, with different people, and a surrounding of new culture, you experience culture shock which is expected. However, when you return home after living abroad, you don’t anticipate a feeling of reverse culture shock. This is what I have been facing in the last months being back home.
Chapada dos Veadeiros 2015
When you live abroad, you rely on the company of people that you surround yourself with. It is near impossible to experience new culture staying inside as a hermit does in its shell. You have to be social, this is how you experience not only language but local food, slang, music, games, styles, trends, customs, and more through the new friends that you make living in another country. It is a culture shock to take all the new culture in and you may certainly hang on to your home culture as well. Yet, you can’t avoid also picking up some of the social norms you experience in the mean time and they become a part of you. Thus, you become a unique human of mixed culture without even being aware because ultimately it is instinctual to adapt and adjust to different territories as human beings. However, when you return to the territory of your home culture it is apparent that our same instinct that works to readjust and re adapt presents different challenges, creating reverse culture shock.
(Top picture:myself, Jaqueline, Juliano, Rodrigo, Alex, Bruno, Felipe)
An island off the coast of Ubatuba, Brazil 2015
(bottom picture: Emma Shields, Amber Ginther, and myself)
Calendar Crush Party 2013
The first day returning home to Austin, Texas I laid on the couch of my parents home, swaddled in a warm snuggie by a hot fire place. It was damn cold! I hadn’t experienced a cold day in over a year and was physically struck by the temperature change. Aside from the weather though, in the weeks to follow, I didn’t know what to do with my time being back home and living with my parents. I looked for jobs, kept up with day to day chores, exercised, and operated around this routine, but I was confused as to what to do outside of that. It was like being a fish out of water. I couldn’t help but feel out of place, even though, I was home. It was almost like I was depressed to be back, but I knew I was only feeling that way because living with my parents made me feel like I was starting from the bottom again. It was difficult to re adapt and readjust to home. It was especially challenging to find my routine again, to figure out who my friends are, and ultimately to set new goals for myself in order to embrace my new being of mixed culture. Most people find that they learn more about themselves when living abroad, and I did. Yet, I also believe that it is important in the cycle of discovering yourself to come home.
Sunrise outside of my apartment in Campinas, Sao Paulo. Last day of English Teaching.
Well now, I can answer the questions I asked myself while in the Guarulhos Airport of Sao Paulo. No, my previous life before Brazil living didn’t fall back into place as I thought it would. Yes, I do have an overwhelming sensation of being home, with family, friends, and a familiar territory. On the other hand, I will not forget that I also consider Brazil as one of my homes. I learned that it is possible to have more than one. Hell yeah, I’ve changed, because if I hadn’t my answers wouldn’t be the ones that I choose now.