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Old Gold & Black

Old Gold & Black

Scott Kull: The new Director of Athletics
Abigail Taylor, Contributing Writer • April 16, 2024

Reverse culture shock

 Do you see the American flag? Think again: students with reverse culture shock will probably see this image as a poorly sewn Union Jack, with some pretentious students even referring to America as “the colonies.”
Do you see the American flag? Think again: students with reverse culture shock will probably see this image as a poorly sewn Union Jack, with some pretentious students even referring to America as “the colonies.”

HOW TO (NOT) DEAL WITH COMING HOME

Reverse culture shock is always harped upon in study abroad pro- grams. It is the shock a student may have when re-entering the United States when he or she realizes that not everything is as peachy keen as they recall—that indeed, bald eagles do not fly from the sky deliv- ering pizzas in the shape of Abraham Lincoln’s beard or that yes, life did move on when the student left the country even though everyone was supposed to put their lives on pause until the student returned. These sometimes earth-shattering revelations can come as a surprise to the student and so we at the Old Gold and Black have designed our own, unofficial guide on how to cope with reverse culture shock.

Extreme Nationalism: The student should slowly re-immerse them- selves into their hardcore love of America. Yes, this does mean you should hold off on drinking the goblet of corn blood at the Ameri- can ritual the night before the 4th of July, perhaps for more reasons than just that of reverse culture shock. We are not even sure what corn blood is, but since it’s American we won’t question it. It may be weird to see a million American flags everywhere when while you were abroad, people didn’t seem to care as much. But then again, did they have the stars and stripes? We don’t think so.* Aim to touch up your tattoo of the Declaration of Independence within five weeks of your return.

*As it turns out, there are a lot of flags that include star symbols and/or the striped patterned that are not from America, so they may indeed have had some stars and stripes. We digress.

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Social Media Menace: Part of the cleansing of ending a student’s study abroad adventure is to have one last final wave of gushing about their experience. This wave, however, may last for quite a long time. For example, the student’s Instagram account may forever be riddled with scenic ocean views from Spain, castles from Prague, cheese plates from France and even dramatic sunsets from Germany. Peers may become agitated and start to wonder if this student will ever accept the fact that they live in America. Have they bothered to take any photos since coming back to America? Must every post be a flashback? Is their home country not good enough for them anymore? We ask for patience all around. Yes, the student is probably an obnoxious snob now. But you must admit, no matter how glorious fifth meal is, can Taco Bell really compare to a fresh, seaside market in Europe? We actually are seriously asking. Can it? Are we allowed to love the Cheesy Gordita Crunch more than a precious Sunday market on the coast of Ireland? Is that allowed?

Your life is over: Yes, we hate to break it to you but after much research, interviewing and overall investigating, our team has come to the conclusion that your life is in fact over now that you are back in America. It is impossible for any other event in your life to live up to the past few months you have spent dashing about Not America. Sure, there may be other opportunities in your life to go abroad again and sure, if you truly want to go back you can probably make it hap- pen through hard work and diligence but it is annoying to listen to that kind of logic. You had no happy memories before abroad, if you do so recall. Friends? Birthdays? Road trips? The past two decades of your life were oatmeal. How can you have oatmeal after being served a delicious never ending plate of chocolate cake? You can’t, that’s the answer. And if you do, you sicken us. But remember, everything will be alright as everyone around you keeps saying. Your life is over, but it’s alright.

Lapse: One process we discovered that helped many students over- come their reverse culture shock was to ignore it completely and pre- tend they never left their abroad country. Deck out your room in the country’s flag, speak only in the native accent or language, only eat foods indigenous to the country and most importantly, scoff at any- one who happens to not understand or know what you are talking about or doing. Seriously, you don’t know where Doge’s palace is? You’ve never tried hot grog? Milan? Oh, you mean Milano, oh yes, I went there one weekend when I had nothing else to do. Along with your pretentiousness, it is important to always start your sentences with “Well, when I was in such-and-such country…” The comparison to America must always be negative toward the States. You’ve seen the world, after all. Not one single bit of America is worth your time now. Remember, everything is oatmeal. You have dined with the gods and will continue this illusion until someone holds an intervention for you. By never accepting the changes in your life, you cannot com- pletely deal with your reverse culture shock. Therefore, you won’t have to go through reverse culture shock. It’s a fool’s plan. Pardon, a foolproof plan. Yes, that’s what we meant.

Reverse culture shock is hard. It may feel like no one understands you, that you are alone and other motifs one may find in an angst rid- dled Avril Lavigne song from the early ‘00s. The truth is that your time abroad was fantastic and beyond amazing, but that does not mean that America cannot offer you a similar happiness. After all, what else would you call a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken? Wait, we’re sure we can come up with something more exciting. Drive-thru’s? Endless refills? Wal-Mart? Well, we’re sure you will find something to be hap- py about upon your return to the United States.

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