Reverse Culture Shock - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 26 Old 06-15-2008, 04:08 AM - Thread Starter
 
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So here we are, with just a few days to go before we hop on that big ol' jet airliner and head back to the US for a couple of years. It's not like we haven't been back to visit since we moved to Turkiye, we have. But we always knew that we would be heading back "home" (Istanbul) in a few weeks, so it was like being a tourist in our culture of origin. But now, I'm starting to get queasy thinking of being "stuck" in the US for a couple of years. I've gotten so used to the lifestyle here and am trying to get prepared for "reverse culture shock."

When we moved to Istanbul almost three years ago, I didn't really have much trouble adjusting to the life here. The language barrier has always been my biggest hurdle, but I've managed to the point where I'm able to conduct my life reasonably independently. I can grocery shop, take public transport (within my little area anyway), and have brief conversations about a few topics. I can walk to just about anywhere I need to go and have a decent support system of English-speaking moms. I even had a baby here in a hospital where not even my doctor spoke much English. It was nowhere near as difficult as I remember having a baby in the US (power struggles with staff, etc). I love the people here, love *love* LOVE the food :, enjoy the laid back attitude, and how child-friendly everyone is. The values here are the ones that I have always cherished the most and I have come to fit right in, like a hand in a glove. Everyone here says how "Turkish" I am, hence my username!

In the beginning, there were American things that I missed terribly--Campbell's soup, Bisquick, 24 hour grocery stores, cheap and fast internet service, 700 channels of nothing-to-watch on TV. Over time, I got used to making soup from scratch, doing without when the store was closed, and was TV free for a year and a half. (Even now, we only have 2 1/2 channels of English TV.) Now there is really nothing that I miss, except the ability to go to Wal-Mart or someplace similar at 2 am.

I've started packing my suitcase with the things that I will need to survive for three months before our household goods are shipped over. I've got Turkish tea pots, coffee pots, proper cups and spoons for both, Turkish books and videos for my son, and a few other things. I may not be able to pack my clothes, but I don't care. I can get clothes in the US, but not my tea pots! I've located a Turkish cultural center near where we will be moving and have already made initial contact with them. But I'm afraid of losing my "Turkishness" and afraid that my son is going to lose part of what makes him HIM. I'm worried about cultural things like breastfeeding a toddler in public, which is a non-issue here, and having to defend my child-rearing practices like co-sleeping, child-led weaning, gentle discipline, etc. I'm really worried about the breastfeeding. Really. Maybe I should quit hanging out in the Lactivism forum.

Tell me it'll be alright. Any multicultural moms BTDT with reverse culture shock? I'm so anxious.
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#2 of 26 Old 06-15-2008, 05:33 AM
 
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We left the Emirates for the good ol' US of A and we only lasted... eight months before we said "screw this" and left.

Of course I hate the Emirates in many ways. I hate the heat in the summer. I hate the insane amount of perverts. I hate the injustice for females. I hate the injustice for the workers that they bring in from poor countries. But I hate a lot of things about the US. Except for junk food. America is the leading country in one thing and that is junk food. And good television! And books. But then I can get a satellite without a stupid, insane place that I have to pay every month and I have no fear of being punished for downloading shows I miss and they now have Borders in the Emirates as well as other good book shops! And they have Popeyes, Subway, McDonalds, Burger King, KFC, Hardees, Quiznos, Pizza Hut, Dominos, New York Fries, Krispy Kreme, Dunkin Donuts, Baskin Robbins, Cold Stone Creamery, Chilis, Applebees and so on and so forth. Instead of Walmart it is Carrefour and instead of Target it is Mark and Spencer.

We just couldn't manage in the States. Jobs are hard to find with international only experience, health care is an expensive mess, you have cps and busy bodies every where and tons of crap and it's all politically correct blahblahblah.

Since I obviously have nothing to encouraging to say, should I just say "GOOD LUCK LOLZ U'LL NEED IT!!!!11!!"?

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#3 of 26 Old 06-15-2008, 06:51 AM
 
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I want to try to come back to this later, we are in the middle of moving now :

We went to the states for 6 months last year. Six months was enough . I totally get what you mean, it is hard to back away from the US culture and not get sucked into buying too much and watching things on TV at 3am. I wish you strength!! Where are you going to be in the states? Will there be a Turkish community there for ds to keep speaking the language? Will you be able to take language courses to get yourself even more fluent for when you return? I wish you much luck!!!

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#4 of 26 Old 06-15-2008, 07:55 AM
 
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I am not much help but I wanted to respond as I am a two time expat. I am Canadian but have lived in Taiwan, The US and now Scotland. I actually think of San Francisco as where I am from.

I have been in Scotland for almost 8 years and this is home now. There will always be the draw towards the US where all of our family is but I can't imagine going back. Hell, I get culture shock just going back for a couple of weeks visit!
I think part of it is knowing that culture shock is normal and to be expected. This is a good link that outlines the stages of it:
http://www.kwintessential.co.uk/cult...ck-stages.html

I also wanted to respond because we LOVE Istanbul and were considering what it might be like to love there as well. We've been many times and feel a real connection to it.

Good luck with your move.
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#5 of 26 Old 06-15-2008, 12:46 PM
 
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We had lived aboard for 2 years and while living aboard there were only a couple of things I missed about America.
I missed having television in english, and central heating in the Winter.

Aboard I didn't need a car. I was able to walk to any place I needed to go or I could take public transportation which was always available. Living in the states a car is a necessity for me, because the public transportation is not so good.

While aboard I was able to go daily to the market and buy fresh fish, fresh fruits, and fresh vegetables for dinner.

When we returned to the states, it did take me a while to adjust, and I cried for a while because I was homesick for my adopted country.

For a long time I wanted to pack up and move back aboard. But over the years I have adjusted.

Wishing you the best.
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#6 of 26 Old 06-15-2008, 04:11 PM
 
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we're going back next year for six months after, by then, nine years. dh is dutch and has never lived in the states, nor has DS. we're lucky that we can do it for six months and see how we like it.

turkish kate, i'm sure you'll be fine, just like you were fine going to Turkey. it'll be kind of like being in a foreign country, so you can just enjoy it as though you were a tourist.

keep us updated on how it goes.
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#7 of 26 Old 06-15-2008, 08:10 PM
 
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we're going back next year for six months after, by then, nine years. dh is dutch and has never lived in the states, nor has DS. we're lucky that we can do it for six months and see how we like it.
??

What visa is your husband coming in on? Did you get him an IR-1?
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#8 of 26 Old 06-16-2008, 04:39 AM
 
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??

What visa is your husband coming in on? Did you get him an IR-1?
he's doing a project for his work, which has an office in NYC (we'll be in Philadelphia . .. hopefully he can work from "home" a few days a week), so his work is arranging the temp visa. sorry I don't know exactly which one it is, but I can ask and find out.

actually, though, there is a small chance that his work will only let him come for three months due to the visa issue. that would be a bummer, but better than nothing.
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#9 of 26 Old 06-17-2008, 03:54 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the replies, ladies. We now have less than 24 hours and I'm as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs! : I'm the most anxious traveler ever and DH and DD are about sick of me. Trying to decide what to pack, what I can live without for three months, how to fit it all in two suitcases. : What do I do with the :? I hate to do sposies for 3 1/2 months, but can't quite figure out how to fit the diapers into the luggage. I've been awake since 3am, out of bed since 5am, living on and exhausted, but unable to

Trying to concentrate on the positives, though: I can pick up a paperback anywhere and :. I can finally go to Le Target and get one of those nifty ing tanks. And I can participate in World Breastfeeding Week events and nurse-ins and stuff! Plus, we're : and hoping for a : : which is much more likely to happen in the US than here. But I am worried about : in the US and wondering if I'm going to get harrassed and how I will handle it and without and . Plus, we'll eventually land in FL, so there's the and :.

Please, send me some and :.
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#10 of 26 Old 06-17-2008, 04:12 AM
 
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Good luck! I hope you guys can adjust.
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#11 of 26 Old 06-17-2008, 04:24 AM
 
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[quote=DariusMom;11475704]we're going back next year for six months after, by then, nine years. dh is dutch and has never lived in the states, nor has DS. we're lucky that we can do it for six months and see how we like it.

turkish kate, i'm sure you'll be fine, just like you were fine going to Turkey. it'll be kind of like being in a foreign country, so you can just enjoy it as though you were a tourist.

keep us updated on how it goes.[/quote]
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#12 of 26 Old 06-21-2008, 10:49 PM
 
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I have lived briefly in he Netherlands and also for a spell in Italy. Both times I was relunctant to come back to the US and suffered reverse culture shock. The first time after NL, I was in a restaurant with a friend and we were catching up and I was showing her pics and the waitress kept coming over and asking how things were (as is normal in US). I got snippy and told her that if we needed anythign we would get her attention but it was rude to continually interupt us. Poor girl was just dong her job and rigth after I remembered that most americans would consider it poor service if she didn't do it.

After coming back from living in Italy for over a year I was devastated. I couldn't understand why everything had to be so big, why everyone was in a hurry and no one gace a crap about what they ate. I loathed the lack of public transport. I to this day can not understand why people have to buy so much (although I understand it is easy to get caught up in)and I absolutely hate walmart.

I eventually adjusted but I never completely reintergrated and I am lad about that. I have kept certain values that my experiences have taught me. Dp is from Italy and this has definately helped when it comes to family stuff.

I still don't like stuff about the US and we are planning on leaving. But we currently live in a peacefule place with for the most part great people. We don't totally feel like we are in america. When we go to visit fam in Philly we call it "real America". Good luck with your move.

Mamma to dd1 3/8/07, one 9.5.08, and dd2 9/9/09
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#13 of 26 Old 06-22-2008, 05:50 AM
 
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I have lived briefly in he Netherlands and also for a spell in Italy. Both times I was relunctant to come back to the US and suffered reverse culture shock. The first time after NL, I was in a restaurant with a friend and we were catching up and I was showing her pics and the waitress kept coming over and asking how things were (as is normal in US). I got snippy and told her that if we needed anythign we would get her attention but it was rude to continually interupt us. Poor girl was just dong her job and rigth after I remembered that most americans would consider it poor service if she didn't do it.


I've been in the Netherlands for 8 years now. I go back to the US about once or twice a year, but every.single.time it takes me by surprise how irritating being interrupted every five minutes is by a waiter or waitress. I feel like getting snippy too! I just feels like, "order something else or get out." although I know that's not always the intention.

That being said, I wish there were some middle ground. In the Netherlands, you basically have to trip the staff or tackle them just to order another drink. The level of basic service is generally pretty appalling.
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#14 of 26 Old 06-22-2008, 05:57 AM
 
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I've been in the Netherlands for 8 years now. I go back to the US about once or twice a year, but every.single.time it takes me by surprise how irritating being interrupted every five minutes is by a waiter or waitress. I feel like getting snippy too! I just feels like, "order something else or get out." although I know that's not always the intention.

That being said, I wish there were some middle ground. In the Netherlands, you basically have to trip the staff or tackle them just to order another drink. The level of basic service is generally pretty appalling.
Can we switch? I'm Dutch and living in the US right now... I miss my cheese!

Maxime - Wife to Brian (08.11.2007) - Mommy to Lili Elizabeth (08.12.2008)
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#15 of 26 Old 06-22-2008, 11:54 AM
 
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Can we switch? I'm Dutch and living in the US right now... I miss my cheese!


I can imagine. And it's not just the Dutch cheese (with all due respect!). I love getting delicious cheese from throughout Europe easily. Yum.
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#16 of 26 Old 06-24-2008, 01:50 AM
 
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Oooooh, I just went through reverse culture shock when I moved back to the US from France in January.

It's hard.

But you will be ok.

I have cried a lot about leaving Paris. Especially since we are in a not so great city (boooooooooooring place).

The reality for us is that our future clearly did not lie in Paris. We really hope that we can make a better life for ourselves here. But not a day will go by that I won't miss our life in France.

In many ways, our change has already been a positive one, though DH is still looking for work (3 months of active looking and counting....). We're near family. We've already made great friends (it takes a long time to make any kind of friend in France!). DS has so much more space to play and people around in his daily life. I love Costco and Target.

A friend of mine who also made an international move ended up back in France after a year back in her home country (not the US). She said it was a huge mistake to go back to France. She told me to give it two full years to decide whether it was the right decision. I think that's pretty good advice.

Anyway, I hope your transition goes smoothly! Feel free to PM me if you want to chat.
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#17 of 26 Old 06-24-2008, 10:28 PM - Thread Starter
 
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We've been here a week, been traveling most of that time, and am squarely in the midst of RCS. Ugh. I hate it here.
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#18 of 26 Old 06-24-2008, 11:40 PM
 
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I feel for you. We moved to the US ( a return for me, a first for DH and DD #1) about 2 years ago. Everyone I knew who had gone back to home countries in the west from Thailand said it would take a full year to just begin to feel settled. Its true and then some. It has been hard. I miss so much about Thailand - the food, the weather, the relaxed way of life. People and life in the US seems so stressful after having lived and started a family in a Thai Buddhist culture.
We have adjusted to a degree but some of that adjustment for us has actually taken away parts of us and our life that we treasured in Thailand. It is hard to keep the same kind of attitude towards life's ups and downs when living in such a fast paced, success based culture. Of course, we also have not taken the easy path as we moved to the US with a toddler, had another baby, started a business, lived on one income, DH has worked when he is not fluent in the language blah, blah, blah! We went back to Thailand this last winter for a couple of months and we both felt so much more like our old selves by the end of the trip.
I'd say getting a community together is so important. We have my family here which has been a huge support. And, of course, we constantly dream and plan our return to Thailand! Good luck, keep us posted!
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#19 of 26 Old 06-25-2008, 10:08 AM
 
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Hi Kate,

I wish you and your family all the courage you need to adjust to your new life in the USA. It's probably much harder on you than on your son to move back there. I do hope your daughter and husband will adjust easily too. Just try to look at the positive side of moving back to the US, what have you got now that you didn't have access to in Turkey (like good insurance)? And maybe it's not all that bad about bf (in public), maybe your experiences will be just fine. Just try to look (even if it's real hard) at the positive things in your new environment, and DO NOT COMPARE. That'll only make you unhappy!

By the way, people here in Turkey didn't find it strange when I was feeding my 18 month old son, even when he was almost two, some may have been pleasantly surprised, but once past 24 months people do start to find it weird and unnecessary and have their comments!, thus I decided to keep the bf toddler topic to myself from now on (he is 2y4m old) only close friends and family know.

I just saw this add on MDC and it might be useful: http://www.akmarket.com/ they sell Turkish products in the states (also double teapots :-). You may find similar sites or even shops that sell Turkish products where you live?

I just came back from a holiday in Belgium and I feel home in both countries. So always hard to leave either country but nice to be back too. I am sure you can make it home there for you too. Only it will need some big effort.

Best regards,

Me:,loving HB,two active sons of 3 & 5,1 cat, nature lover,,extbf,occ,SAHM, multicultural/lingual family,+/-cl, :become a better parent/person by not expecting to be the perfect parent/person
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#20 of 26 Old 06-28-2008, 02:12 PM
 
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Hi Kate. We recently moved back to the US to start a new life here. I've never had much of a problem with culture shock. One thing that is nice here is that you will find all kinds. It is easy to forget how diverse the US is until you get here. You are probably already here- PM me where you are.

I miss the Asian hospitality and warmth and do feel a little disoriented (like, what am I supposed to do in this situation?) occasionally but I am more dealing with my DH's culture shock (another thread entirely).

Good luck!

It's not that the stay-at-home-parent gets to stay home with the kids. The kids get to stay home with a parent. Lucky Mom to DD1 (4 y) and DD2 (18 mo), Wife to Mercenary Dad
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#21 of 26 Old 07-03-2008, 12:30 PM
 
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Just wanted to send you soome:

I'm going back to visit my folks for 6 weeks starting in mid July, and I understand what you're going through. (To a degree, since it's only 6 weeks rather than a few years.)

Good Luck with everything!

-- Miss 1928 -- and Opera Singing Mamma to Eloisa -- 12 Feb 2007
-- Wife to a Wonderful Husband and Pianist -- 27 March 2003
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#22 of 26 Old 07-03-2008, 04:10 PM
 
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I lived for two years in Israel and thoroughly enjoyed it. But I kissed the ground when I walked off that plane in NYC.

I lived for a year in Russia and thoroughly enjoyed it. But I kissed the ground when I walked off that plane in NYC.

And I lived for for 6 mos in the UK and thoroughly enjoyed it. But I kissed the ground when I walked off that plane in NYC.

There is NO place like the US of A. In My Opinion.

(edit) I'll add that I am from a completely multicultural family - my Mom is Russian, my Dad Latvian; My bro is American, my SIL is Turkish; I am American, my ex is a Brit.
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#23 of 26 Old 07-03-2008, 07:28 PM
 
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I hope it's all going Ok. I have to admit I'm a bit jealous! I've lived in Europe for almost 13 years and it would be hard to leave but there are things I would love (and not love) about living in the U.S., just like there are good and bad things here and I'd be closer to my family. I'd have to be somewhere walkable though. I couldn't stand not being able to just walk to the store, playground, post office, etc.

eta: we won't be moving there anytime soon, though.
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#24 of 26 Old 07-03-2008, 09:31 PM
 
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Wow I just noticed this board.

I had reverse culture shock after living in England for 4 years and then moving back to the deep south. I absolutely freakin HATE HATE it here. I miss England so much. I only like the fact that 1. i can drive here. 2. the sun. and 3. cheaper houses. other than that. YUCK. I loathe walmart, I miss tescos so so so much. even asda was better than walmart, but asda is walmart..LOL
I really get homesick for england alllllllllllll the time.

Me and my wonderful husband serve God. Blessed with twin girls 2/11/11. <3

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#25 of 26 Old 07-14-2008, 07:21 PM
 
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Turkish Kate,

Although I've never lived outside the US, I can really relate based on my visits to my husband's country. Job opportunities and quality-of-life considerations keep us firmly grounded in the US for now.

There is so much to love about the US, but I think the extreme focus on convenience and independence and commercialism is a big turn off. So many people in the US are cut off from their families and from any genuine sense of community. I didn't fully see that until I had the opportunity to see how people in some other cultures live. It makes me sad to know that my child will be born into this culture of aloneness.

For me, it's interesting to see how my relationship with my home culture has adapted to being married to someone from another culture. I feel like his culture is a part of me, but this isn't something that is visible from the outside. When I'm in the US, there's no accent or any other thing to identify me as something other than Anglo-American, and sometimes I feel that, as a result, I'm not really <i>known</i>, even by people I interact with regularly. It's confusing. When I'm in my husband's country, my bi-cultural-ness is obvious because I am obviously an outsider who participates in their culture. So there's less stress in that sense.

I hope you're starting to get comfortable and to find community and cultural links to keep you sane during your time in the US.
: Wishing the best for you!


Mama to a bilingual (Arabic/English) and cuddly 3 year old, and planning another peaceful homebirth in June.
 

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#26 of 26 Old 07-19-2008, 01:42 PM
 
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Kate, how's it going?

It's not that the stay-at-home-parent gets to stay home with the kids. The kids get to stay home with a parent. Lucky Mom to DD1 (4 y) and DD2 (18 mo), Wife to Mercenary Dad
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