Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Reverse Culture Shock

Maybe I've blocked it out, but I don't remember the transition from Thailand back to Australia being as noticeable last year.  
I know Spencer, 2 at the time, was found curled up on the couch with my mum at 11pm, one of the first nights we were back, muttering "gkin khow" and my mum had no idea what he talking about.  
We later explained that in Thai that meant "eat rice" as well as being a phrase used for "come and eat"- he was still in Thai time and he must've been feeling hungry!
This time though, my three littlies have been heard saying, 
"Wow! We didn't know there were rainbows in Australia".
"Look that horse has clothes on!" "Probably because it's sooo cold in Australia".
"Can you help me get dressed?"   and
"Mum, are we allowed to flush the toilet paper?"
There's been so much to get used to from car seats to constrictive clothing... different foods, colder temperatures, heaters, blankets, television, new faces, new places and an unpredictable routine.
Just to get dressed, there are sock struggles, tricky zippers, annoying singlets, tight coats, long sleeves that get lost somewhere inside jumpers and that's not even mentioning the gloves, scarves and beanies...
Is it any wonder that these little guys have found it all a bit overwhelming?
I know even for me, the Mac store had my head spinning and simply buying a few groceries yesterday left me feeling overwhelmed (way too many options!)  
How is it that 'home' can be the thing that, in some ways, now feels foreign?    
It can be challenging going from seeing so much of the "not enough" to be once again surrounded by "too much".
I love it how John Franklin Hay says, on his (Bike Kenya) blog:
"What we have on our hands is a gift and a burden. It was a blessing to have this unique cross-cultural experience. But this gift leaves us with something of a burden. What shall we do we do with what we experienced? Unlike a souvenir, we can't just put it on a shelf or pack it away. It's somehow with us in our thinking, valuing, choosing and acting every day.

I do not pray that you will return to "normal," so that this will have been one more passing experience in a string of life experiences--"been there, done that, got the t-shirt." Instead, I pray that you and I will ultimately be able to use our unique and wonderful experience(s) to become compassionate and graceful advocates in tangible ways in the days ahead".

Despite the differences, the reverse cultural shock and the challenges of "too much", may that be our goal, to become compassionate and graceful advocates in tangible ways in the days ahead.

If you haven't already done so, please go over to our new ZOE Foundation Australia Facebook page and give it a "LIKE".  Thanks!


Mrs M said...

it's so interesting to hear the changes in their reactions.
Especially for Spencer, he would probably not remember living in Australia.
I battle with too much stuff. It's becoming a burden for me, and yet I struggle to let it go. slowly slowly.

Cross Family said...

Thanks for your comment Mandy. It's really hard, I certainly haven't arrived- a work in progress.