reverse culture shock

Jet lag came at me disguised as postpartum with varying degrees of aftershocks. I had not intended my 10-week trip to Europe to give birth to something that had been growing inside me the past year. My goal was to bake some bread, eat as many frøsnappers and morgen boller filled with butter and cheese as possible, hang out with old friends, make some new friends, and be home for my 31st birthday. I had spent the past year emerging from my own chrysalis, but what now has emerged from me?

I did not expect to have reverse culture shock. Being surrounded by mostly bare white walls all summer while learning the Danish meaning of hygge, coming home became this constant reminder about how cluttered and un-free my American life was. Prior to my trip, I had already given up half of my closet, half of my books, revealed the corners of my room, but it wasn’t enough. When living in Europe, I ended my evenings by candelight, awoke to hand-ground coffee or congee, and only enjoyed the good things in life with good people. I gave myself a week to adjust. A week became two weeks. Two weeks became three weeks. I don’t think a lifetime would give me enough time to adjust.

My daily sun salutations have become an honoring of how much of this life could I feel.

Instead of fighting hygge, I have chosen to settle in the path of least resistance. Deliberate footprints litter this path, with the dusty shimmers of forks in the road so far below the horizon that they can no longer tempt me to turn around. If you dare take this journey with me, I can’t say what we will run, walk, swim, or climb into or what direction the doors will swing; but, if you hold my hand and keep walking us forward, the candlelight will feed off the fresh air and light our way.

One Comment

  1. I too am still suffering from a sense of cultural jet lag. It is a change in the way that I now want to live, and a struggle to find balance. I feel for you, and I’m here to talk as needed.



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