In our pre-departure meeting, they went over the stages of culture shock. However, while I was abroad, I don’t really think I truly experienced culture shock. It is worth noting that I was only abroad for 20 days total, so that could have affected my lack of culture shock. Furthermore, I really researched and mentally prepared for my study abroad. I researched the cultures of each country (I traveled to France, Germany, and Italy). Specifically, I researched what people wore, what people ate, how to eat food, in what order you eat things, what people drank, when they drank, etc. I think that helped me get comfortable with the way people lived their lives abroad. I also researched how people feel when studying abroad, which helped me prepare for what emotions and thoughts I would feel and have.
On the opposite side, I do think I have experienced some reverse culture shock. There are a few things that are taking me longer to adjust to than I originally anticipated. I think I really prepared for the culture shock, but I did not adequately prepare for reverse culture shock.
First, the English being spoken everywhere. I got really used to not hearing English at all or maybe very little. It allowed me to be much more present in the moment. I could have a conversation with the person or people I was with and not hear a million conversations going on at once.
Secondly, I enjoyed that in Europe people are not on their phones, like ever. They really try to enjoy the quality time spent doing things or being with people. But, here in the US everyone is on their phones 24/7. There is so many distractions all the time.
Lastly, the drinking culture of the US versus Europe. In Europe, we would have a drink with friends or with our meals and enjoy the company; it was not about the alcohol. However, in the US when we drink, we drink to get drunk, at least in Tuscaloosa. It is hard to adjust to wanting to have a glass of wine or beer with my lunch to that now be socially unacceptable.
Overall, my reverse culture shock has not been super difficult on me or super draining, but it has been more of an adjustment than I had originally anticipated.