To be honest, I wasn’t really expecting any reverse culture shock. Silly of me? Well, perhaps. I knew it would be difficult to leave France and have to start over, but I would keep occupied with my move to DC and experiencing American city life.I have kept occupied and it helps in readjusting. Yet, I didn’t avoid the reverse culture shock.
I feel homesick for a place which was home for only eight months, but it was a home I loved very much where there were people I cared very much about. I miss my students (my dear Frenchlings!), the teachers I taught with, and my friends. I miss my cozy little purple and green apartment on rue Bec de Lièvre. I miss my visits from Petit Chat. This is all part of the readjustment phase and I am so grateful to have such wonderful things and people (and cats) to miss.
After four moves (home, a friend, another friend, MY apartment), I finally have a stable place to live as of this past weekend. Holy flapjacks is DC expensive and it is hard to find a place to live that is (somewhat) affordable and metro accessible.
But the reverse culture shock…
I never quite realized just how capitalist the US is. Was everything really this much about money before? Where are the social benefits? Why do I have to be freaking out about finding a job that offers health care? Shouldn’t the government cover that in my taxes? And cover it well? How is it possible that a country can allow college tuition to be so high? Why does housing cost so much and why isn’t there any housing aide available to students? On-campus student housing prices are insanely expensive! In fact, just about the most expensive you’ll find in DC. Even non-student housing is expensive. How can housing agencies get away with making such a huge profit margin? Why is the metro so expensive, so inefficient, and why the heck do they treat it like a train??? Where else do metros charge differently for peak and off peak fares and charge more for longer distances? And the prices!! How is it healthy for the environment or our need to be less dependent on oil that driving a car can still come out to be less expensive than taking public transportation? Aren’t people supposed to feel encouraged to use public transportation?? Why is there no size between enough-food-for-a-day and enough-food-to-last-a-family-one-week? How did I go grocery shopping for a single person before? No more sacred lunch break devoted to just eating. Not as much appreciation for a good quality meal. And I don’t know, but I don’t find either DC or New York to be terribly aesthetic. And why, o why, is EVERYONE trying to sell you something???
Yet, I have the freedom to write this and I am thankful for that right. I do love my country, don’t get me wrong; no place, no person is perfect.
My heartstrings are still pulled between many places. I didn’t expect to fall in love with the south of France. I did. It’s time to accept that this is the price of living and loving other parts of the world.