Culture Shock

Girl Child has been home now for a day short of a week.  it has been amazing having her back.

no, she didn't actually walk home

well, amazing for me.  for her?  a bit of culture shock.

it’s to be expected, yes?  she spent the last two years in a place where the village population was about the same as the number of people in the local mall at lunch hour, yet spread over an area about 10 times as big.  she’s just not used to people, so many and so close.  despite me suggesting she go off and see friends (hers and mine…i wanted to show her off), her first few days desire was to cocoon in the house.

we’ve been playing games (kicked her butt in Boggle, she kicked mine in Bananagrams), watching tv shows (old “West Wing” episodes that we both enjoy), and letting her experience a wide choice of fresh foods (the spinach salad i made her the first night was a total hit!).

oh, and we did end up taking that bike ride that she wanted to go on.  on the way home from the airport, she was reiterating her wish list of things to do, which included the bike ride.  we had this interchange – – –

Daughter Person:  i’m looking forward to a bike ride.  but…i’m a little nervous, too.  it’s been so long since i rode a bike, i’m not sure i remember how.

The Dadster:  don’t worry…you’ll remember…it’s just like riding a bike.

[a quick duck from a flying elbow to the head and i survived that bad joke]

after a few days, she finally wandered out and is slowly re-acclimating to the weather (it’s still winter down in ZA), the hubbub (cars! people! noise!), and to the reality of having to find a job and place to stay.

we’ve been out quite a few times.  she’s relearning how to drive a car.  she met my Pub Friends at the last get together (so i DID get to show her off!).  she took a hike with me, Dear Friend, and another friend.  and tonight?  she wandered off on her own to meet up with old friends who still live in the area.

she makes it look easy.

she went to the mall by herself, to buy new shoes.  and ended up overwhelmed by the choices.  yes, they have choices in South Africa, but not in the village where she lived.  to get to the choices, she’d have to take a hike, bus, and taxi…some 3 hours to go 40 miles.  here?  a 2 minute drive to the mall.  too close, with still too many choices for her.  culture shock.

she’s off again, too soon, to start her new life.  heading to Washington DC to look for a job and an apartment.  she’s already invited me to come visit and is looking for a time to return here*.

i find myself wondering how much more culture shock that will be.  while the local city is clearly much bigger than her Peace Corps village, it’s by now means close to the size and frenetic lifestyle of Washington DC.

i’m thinking she’s in for a bit more culture shock.


*she damn well better…i’m lending her a car and want it back!


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8 Responses to “Culture Shock”

  1. daisyfae Says:

    surprised she only threw an elbow at you for that joke…

  2. nursemyra Says:

    Glad to see you’re still playing Bananagrams!!

  3. savannah Says:

    it’s always good when they come home, sugar! seriously, after 2 years away, i’m surprised she even made it to the mall without having a panic attack! (been there, done that re-entry into society ain’t easy!) my best to you both! xoxoxoo

    • thegnukid Says:

      there have been moments where i think she recognized that she should just go to her room and hide or she would have panic attack. she’ll get there. but it’ll take time. xoxoxox

  4. Rob Says:

    I don’t think “culture shock” is quite the right word, gnukid. I’d say it has more to do with an overload of stimulus. I hope that her experience in SA has been enough for her to find her center and that she can keep her new perspective sufficiently to maintain grounding and prevent herself from being overwhelmed and sucked back into the vacuous, superficial culture of North America. When we get sucked into the artificiality, our link to the natural world gets very tenuous and, in my opinion, that’s not a good thing.

    • thegnukid Says:

      exactly. stimuli overload is more like it. she’s been used to being alone without much distraction in her Peace Corps quarters. i’m pretty sure she was grounded enough before she left, but that experience made her even more so. she’ll be fine.

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