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Journals from Hong Kong Baptist University

2010-12-31 Culture Shock: USA

I never thought that returning to normal life in the United States would be more difficult than adjusting to a new one in Hong Kong. The minute our plane passed over Portland, the other Linfield Student and I marveled at the difference between the place we had departed from and the one we would soon arrive at. Clear skies, mountains, and nature, in general, we lacked for four and a half months. But, since when had Portland become such a remote village? I can’t offer any advice on how to hurdle the challenge of re-entry because I still haven’t figured it out. I figure it probably has to do with letting more time pass or something. My unenthusiastic attitude is largely based on the reality of returning to McMinnville after the excitement of a semester abroad. After seeing and experiencing an entirely new culture and metropolitan lifestyle, life back in Oregon seems mundane. On top of that, I had never really understood what culture shock is until returning to the US and going to a shopping mall the next day. A gargantuan cultural difference was shoved in my face, surprising me because I wasn’t prepared for it. Without the thrill of a brand-new situation, culture shock has been hard to combat and I’m left feeling distant toward things that were once familiar. In closing, to future exchange students, this serves as a warning of re-entry challenges, to past exchange students, this is a request for advice on re-entry challenges, to homecoming exchange students, this is an invitation to discuss your experience abroad, whenever. I’m hoping that I will soon return to a more favorable frame of mind.

Michele Wong

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