The title refers to many things... Whew! because I took my written Japanese final today... Whew! because I should really buy presents for people but I have no money (sorry friends and fam)... Whew! because this time next week I will be in Alabama seeing my family and friends! And finally "Whew" or "Wooo" is one of Erykah Badu's latest songs that's brings to mind a nice little get together with friends to play spades... or with some individuals SCRABBLE. Oh yeah, one last Whew! to SCRABBLE, because I can't wait to play it!
Anyway, last week was a re-entry seminar. The purpose was to prepare us for returning to the US. All students were given a "re-entry" packet that included helpful information on coming home. One thing in particular that caught my eye was a list titled "Top 10 Immediate Re-entry Challenges." Here are 5 that invoked a reaction from me:
1. BOREDOM After all the newness and of your time abroad, a return to family, friends, and old routines (however nice and comforting) can seem very dull. It is natural to miss the excitement and challenges which characterize study in a foreign country, but it is up to you to find ways to overcome such negative reactions-remember a bored person is also boring.
My Reaction: Yeah, I could see this being a problem. Especially when I go to Alabama because before even coming to Japan whenever I went home to Alabama I was depressingly bored on the 2nd day.
2. "NO ONE WANTS TO HEAR" One thing you can count on upon your return: no one will be as interested in hearing about your adventures and triuphs as you will be in sharing those experience. This is not a rejection of you or your achievements, but simply the fact that once they have heard the highlights, any further interest on your audiences' part is probably unlikely. Be realisistic in your expectations of how fascinating your journey is going to be for everyone else
My Reaction: Huh? You mean, no one will want to hear me talk about Japan? What about over a glass of sake? (laughing) Okay, I will try not to talk all of your ears off about Japan... (sigh)
3. FEELING OF CRITICAL EYES/ ALIENATION Sometimes the reality of being back "home" is not as natural or enjoyable as the place you had constructed as your mental image. When real daily life is less enjoyable or more demanding than you had remembered, it is natural to feel some alienation, see faults in the society you never noticed before or even become quite critical of everyone and everything for a time. This is no different than when you first left home. Mental comparisons are fine, but keep them to yourself until you regain both your cultural balance and a balanced perspective.
My Reaction: Hmmmm... I must admit gettting away from the "normal" routine of things is what drove me to Japan... We'll see how things go.
4. PEOPLE MISUNDERSTAND A few people will misinterpret your words or actions in such a way that communication is difficult. For example, what you may have come to think of as humor (particularly sarcasm, banter, etc.) and ways to show affection or establish conversation may not be seen as wit, but aggression or "showing off." Offers of help in the kitchen can be seen as criticism of food preparation, new clothing syles as provocative or inappropriate, references to your host country or use of a foreign language as boasting. Be aware of how you may look to others and how your behavior is likely to be interpreted.
My Reaction: Okay...
5. LOSS/COMPARTMENTALIZATION OF EXPERIENCE Being home, coupled with the pressures of school, family, and friends, often combine to make returnees worried that somehow they will "lose" the experience; somehow becoming compartmentalized like souvenirs or photo albums kept in a box and only occasionally taken out and looked at. You do not have to let that happen. Maintain your contacts. Talk to people who have experiences similar to yours. Practice your skills. Remember and honor both your hard work the fun you had while abroad.
My Reaction: Okay...