Culture Shock, is a slippery term that I've been trying to properly define since my first extended period abroad some 5 years ago. Yet, its allusiveness is sometimes a blessing in that it allows the term to broadly cover an array of strange experiences and feelings when both abroad and returning home.
I remember after spending a good while in Central America, coming home to perfectly even-paved streets, nicely groomed median gardens and huge supermarkets felt strange, almost too bright and sometimes even wrong. I didn't want to go out to eat and I felt guilty for almost everything.
But I got over that, and being in and out of the country in the last few years, I was always happy to be home and comfortable. This time, after moving home, not just visiting, I didn't feel that same guilt and over-brightness but there were some "adjustments" and feelings of not-belonging that did happen. Feelings that made me want to run, with destination unknown.
This week, however, something the opposite of culture shock happened. Something even the opposite of reverse culture shock happened. I was at my first yoga class since I've been back. (I wish the story didn't have to be about cheesy yoga, and that the "something" took place in another context, but alas...) The class was tough enough to make my legs quiver embarrassingly, which is the first time that has happened in a few years, since yoga classes in South America haven't felt like yoga at home. When I looked around, I only sorta fit in. The rest of the class seemed either too perfectly sculpted and dressed OR too tattooed and dreadlocked for me to blend. But at the end of class, this surfaced: "Yes..this is the yoga I like, they get me. I belong here."
Wow. How often do you think that? I belong here. Instead of feeling OUT Looking In. Or IN looking Out. I felt perfectly pieced into a mutually satisfying part of the whole. Can it be?