Reverse Culture Shock

DEFINITION of ‘Reverse Culture Shock‘ The shock suffered by some people when they return home after being overseas. This can result in unexpected difficulty in readjusting to the culture and values of the home country, now that the previously familiar has become unfamiliar.”

I know. Who knew right? You’d think that only being gone for a few months would result in nothing but joy and contentment to have returned home. That has not been the case. It has, in fact, resulted in the complete opposite. A feeling of displacement and homelessness that has resulted in feelings of immense anxiety, depression, and worthlessness.

That’s not to say that I regret leaving Scotland because I don’t think I do. I wasn’t happy there and it wasn’t what I wanted. But I suppose I was naive and foolish because I expected to return home and find purpose and fulfillment. At the very least I thought I’d find emotional fulfillment by seeing all the loved ones I’d left behind. But that hasn’t happened. What has happened instead is feeling a bit left behind in a world that no longer feels like mine. I miss my sister a great deal. She became my main confidant, my rock, and my support while we were both away. It’s weird not having her by my side, and weirder still not having her to talk to every day. Weirdest by far is Skyping with her and seeing my apartment in the background and wondering why I’m not there. Wondering why that feels like home even though the world outside it didn’t. And why I don’t feel at home in the house I lived in growing up, but feel at home seeing the Bay Area hills. Home and yet not at home no matter where I am.

I suppose returning home after being overseas is expected to having feelings of readjustments. Especially considering I wasn’t on a vacation, or a trip, or even an extended stay. It was a (semi)permanent move with a lot of new emotional challenges, and physical demands, and unexpected twists and turns every single day. You learn to rely on yourself and only yourself because there’s no one else you can rely on. You learn what you can handle, and when you need to ask for help. That’s hard to do, and it isn’t fun. I thought returning home would take away those feelings. I thought returning home would mean I could rely more on people, and I wouldn’t feel so lost and drowning in a sea of insecurity and confusion. Don’t get me wrong, I do have the support from people now. My friends these past 2 weeks have shown themselves to be the best people in the entire world and I can’t even begin to express the magnitude of gratitude I have for them. For their patience, and kindness. For their willingness to listen, and their understanding in my confusion. Most of all, for their willingness to stay. For not telling me it’s only in my head and allowing me the freedom and comfort to talk things out with them for hours on end. Their love has shown itself in numerous ways and I’m beyond grateful.

However. It is not up to my friends to make me happy. It is not their job to help me find fulfillment and purpose in my life. It is not possible for them to help me through this rough patch. Only I can do that. Only I can find the things that make me fulfilled. Kelsey wanted to stay in Scotland so she could find those things. I felt I would be better suited finding those things here.

So I suppose that’s what I’m going to do now. One step at a time. One day at a time. I thank you all in advance for your patience as I adjust. For your continued willingness to listen and be here when I need you. Because I still will. Even as I learn to be my own source of happiness.

-Annika

P.S. Also, just found out yesterday I was waitlisted at RCS. So who knows, I may be returning to Scotland in the fall anyway. WTF with life right?? Seriously…

The Other Side

Leaving Scotland was hard. I had planned on staying longer but due to the way certain things worked out time wise I had to come to New York a few weeks earlier than anticipated. Perhaps it seems wrong to say it’s hard, seeing as it was my decision to leave, but it was. It was hard leaving a place that had become my home. It was hard leaving my flat, and the 2 (Yes. 2!) friends I’d made whilst living there. There are certain things you look at with fondness a week or two before you leave it. The bus routine, paying in British currency, certain foods I wouldn’t eat again for a long time (looking at you Cadbury chocolate), even the weather. And of course, leaving my sister.

I knew choosing not to live in Scotland was the right decision for me. I wasn’t making the decision because life there was “too hard” or because I felt like I couldn’t do it. Through lots of reflection, and talks with my sister, it became apparent that what we needed through this expereince ultimately ended up being two different things. For me it was leaving, and for her it was staying. And both of us feel good about those respective decisions.

I’ve had people ask me if I gave up. If it got too hard, if I got too homesick, if I missed people too much…these questions hurt a wee bit as I’d like to consider myself a forthcoming enough person that if something was too hard for me I would be sure to announce that. It’s frustrating not being heard, and frustrating being perceived as a weak person who “couldn’t cut it.” But I understand those impressions and try not to take those opinions seriously. 

So yes. I’ll be back in California by the beginning of April. I will be pursuing other avenues and other possibilities whilst there. The biggest thing that will be taking over my time is my health as I now have a forward momentum to get fully 100% healthy. I can achieve that while living in the Bay Area and have already begun the long road to recovery. 

Do I miss Scotland? Of course. But I’ll be back. And I’m excited for what’s in store next.

I’m now here alone!

 

Annika left.

We packed her things and took her to the airport- the same one we arrived at only 5 months ago. We hugged our goodbyes and pretended like it was just a few days apart. I am terrified. I am torn. I am so sad. She is my closest friend from birth and the person who helped me through every decision I made in this country. I don’t really know what to do now. Except just be sad. And deal with it…..

What to look forward to now?

Well- I am a bartender and looking to be a cocktail mixologist by the end of the week (oh yes- very exciting stuff.) I am still trying to meet new people and make new friends but it is always a slow process. I have a new flat mate. I have a couple activities I’m involved in. I am genuinely open minded to the next couple months. I guess first off I should tell you all about my new house mate.

His name is Corentin- and he is a French chef.

He is lovely.

He makes great French food. He is all smiles. He is yoga and guitar and warmth and spirit. I truly am excited to get to know him and enjoy his company. (ooh la la)

Secondly I am already looking into booking my first trop (I think June)- I just can’t decide between Italy, Greece, Morocco, Spain and Iceland. Decisions decisions 😉

I never actually posted this…

Hello All-

Let’s talk about some things that no one likes to hear:

Moving is difficult. I have plenty of friends and family members who have moved before. My grandmother moved over to the United States not knowing a word of English with her two children in tow. My best friend moved to Oregon from California- just to do it. I have a friend who did the same to New York City. These stories sound so glamorous, courageous; we highlight them as something incredible. A journey only the bravest among us embark on.

I love the support I’ve received in my journey. The amount of people who tell me how proud they are that I was able to get here and get a stable place to live, a job, a buss pass etc. This is wonderful success that I have the illusion of achieving. I did it! I moved! Oh what a story I have to tell. The problem with this is that it is only a small portion of the story. The iceberg- with 10% of it’s mass above water- only shows the world a fraction of it’s true self.

I can’t really decide yet whether or not this move is a good story or a bad one. I might have the 10% showing success- but the 90% beneath the surface is as dark and massive and not as pleasing to my audience. No one wants to hear about the time I got home from work at noon, cried a little and drank a bottle of wine to myself. No one wants to know about the days I sleep in to 5pm only to wake up, go on facebook, and go back to sleep. When I ask people for help I am met with destructively positive replies- It will get better, you will find your place, give it time. Good advice- all around. But what if I don’t need advice? What if all I need if a little bit of connection.

I have lived in Scotland for 4 months. I can count on one hand the number of people who have given me a hug. My sister is one of them.

Is connection all I really need? I have joined a community choir. It’s really wonderful. Singing again in a group of musicians. One goal. One focus. It’s reminiscent of some of the greatest experiences in my life.

I joined a gym and I am currently enjoying just working out for the sake of doing something- no other goal really. Although I’ve made some gains in my squats #gympro #liftordie

….

Anyway- everything written before this sentence was from about 3 weeks ago and I never posted it. Here’s a half written semi old post.

 

Kelsey

Unedited and Unfiltered

Updates:

 

Since I last updated everyone on my adventures and outings it’s safe to say that LOTS have changed. So let me jump back to a week ago when I was working at the company Blue Branch:

My days at Blue Branch consisted of waking up at 5:45 AM and getting to the office at 7AM. Field hours between 9AM and 6PM and then return to the office for a settle up of the days sale production and any workshops/meetings/networking events. Most days I was home by 9PM and in bed by 10. I did this 6 days a week.

Sounds like shit right?

Well- here are the benefits:

  • I am actually really good at sales and thus make pretty good money doing it.
  • I had a large community of people I worked with and felt more connected to Scotland and the world
  • I had goals of progress and growth within this company

 

Here are the negatives:

  • Despite making money I ended up spending half of it in travel beause it was self employed expenses.
  • These colleagues (as made evident by a few stories I will tell later in this blog entry) were not my friends, but merely peers with ulterior motives as well.
  • The goals I set for myself might not have been ones I really wanted.

 

So, after a bottle of wine and a long conversation with my sister that went something like “I don’t think I like my job” – “Well if you don’t like it, change it.” I quit.

 

Now here’s the shit that really grinds my gears: After sending a long resignation email and a nice text message to my training manager both my manager and leader just pretended I no longer existed. Like FO REAL. I was immediately removed from the facebook groups, and removed from the whatsapp group and was never responded to.  I was simply swept under the rug as though I never existed in this company in the first place. Don’t get me wrong I only worked there for 2 months- but still 75 hours a week for two months is a lot of fucking time and energy.

 

So I quit. And since then (now it’s only been 3 days) I’ve been SO happy.

On Sunday I applied to 25 jobs and already have 5 interviews scheduled (they keep rolling in actually.) I got offered a positon at a hotel café which is cool I guess. Have another interview at a hotel tomorrow and honestly I’m just excited to spend a few months doing a fuck all kind of job and really just re asses my goals.

This now brings me to another point. I’ve been toying with the idea of becoming and Au pair for a family in Germany. I have a skype interview set up for tomorrow and would be really excited about the prospect of improving my German and reconnecting with my heritage. Not to mention the fact that I would be able to ignore real responsibilities for another year or so (lol). So as I began to toy with this idea my imagination expanded to include other countries. Italy, Spain, Denmark, Australia, New Zealand…and the list grows. So what to do now? Work in Edinburgh for a few months? Use my ridiculously impulsive move to Scotland as a catalyst to do the same elsewhere? But why not? (other than my student debt mountain back in the U.S. that I try to remain blissfully ignorant of) Why not just get hired as an au pair and fly to Australia for a year. I could do it. I suppose I would need to get a visa for Australia but like….then I just go home and kiss my parents good bye again and THEN go to Australia.

I guess all I’m saying in this entry is that I am so sick and tired of trying to make it seem like I have a clue what I’m doing; As though my moves are intentional and I’m about to checkmate the king in this chess game of life. In reality I’m another naive millennial stuck with the tragedy of thinking I can be and do whatever I want while simultaneously feeling the constant social pressure to find a stable career that will garner respect and profit.  This is what’s so frustrating! If only I could be irresponsible and silly and flit about all around the world. Will I be able to make up for lost time when I am ready to decide my future? Or maybe this really is what I want. To travel. To be a vagabond. To never really settle until I’ve seen it all. Maybe. We’ll see….

 

-Kelsey

This will be a TMI post. Ye Be Warned…

One of the most wonderful (and sometimes infuriating) things about living with your sister is how in sync you are with each other. You often find yourself laughing the same way, or saying the same thing, and I won’t even get into how many times people pipe up on how much we look a like. Today though. Today the sister bond reached new heights. Because you see….

The redcoats have arrived.

Oh? Don’t know to what I am referring? Let me try again…

  • It’s shark week.
  • We’re surfing the crimson wave.
  • The uterus ninjas are here
  • Code Red, Code Red!!

Ok…hopefully you get the idea. If not, Google it.

But seriously! It happened an hour apart. I texted her while at work which is how we found out. What’s a girl to do when it’s not one of us but two!? The emotional fragility of our flat was at stake!

 

Being the amazing sister I am, I brought home chocolate and wine. Cuz like…duh. Chocolate.

Thing is, we ran out…(again. duh) So at 11:35pm Kelsey (being the amazing sister SHE is) decides to make chocolate muffins out of what we have in the cupboards. Cuz chocolate. Tescos is a 10 minute walk from here but ain’t nobody got time for that. We’re way too lazy. Also cuz cramps. Also there was that wine involved…remember the wine? 
So yeah. Chocolate.

Cuz. Chocolate.

If we eat all the muffins we may still go to Tescos. They have Nutella there. And chocolate frosting…
Cuz (all together now) chocolate.

Short and Sweet

Kelsey got promoted! YAY! Of course she did. I see her even less now but she’s kicking ass and taking names.

We’re both poor as fuck. This sucks for a variety of reasons but the main one has to be when friends (with all their good intentions) ask if we’ve seen/done xyz yet. No. No we haven’t. Why? Because we’re poor and working all the time. We’re not on vacation. We live here. Do you lot have the money and time to see all the amazing things your city has to offer? No, of course not. Cuz you’re poor and working all the time too. I get you. So while we’re trying to soak up the culture as much as possible, we can only do it on our days off and with limited pocket money. That in mind, we’re planning a trip to the highlands in the next month.

I have my auditions and am preparing for them. The classical acting audition is March 3 and the musical theater one is March 7th.

I’ve made two friends! Woohoo!! #popular

I’m flying to NYC the 2nd week of March for more auditions. And after that I’ll be returning to California. I’ll hopefully be back in Scotland in the fall attending RCS. I so hope that works out! If not, I’ll be staying in the Bay Area for the foreseeable future and figuring out new things from there. We’ll see. Things change every day. I’ve enjoyed (and will continue to enjoy) my time here, but it is not my home nor do I want it to be. Time to go back to where I truly want to be.

 

I’ve got 2 months left in this country. Let’s do it.