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 Post subject: Adjusting to being home after long-term travel
PostPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2014 11:57 am 
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Mispronounces Daiya
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Any tips or tricks to help with readjusting to being home?

I just spent 6 months in South America. I loved it there and wouldn't have come back to Boston so soon, but I missed my boyfriend and I had a good job offer (on a short-term contract which is ideal for me). I'm finding it weird to be here and while I think I am glad to be back, I also sort of wish I hadn't come back.

I've traveled a lot, but never more than a month until this trip. A month isn't a big deal, but over 6 months, I have definitely changed as a person and just gotten used to a totally different normal.


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 Post subject: Re: Adjusting to being home after long-term travel
PostPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2014 12:25 pm 
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Are there South American expats or cultural groups you could join? Or new activities in your current place that you can do?

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 Post subject: Re: Adjusting to being home after long-term travel
PostPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2014 12:36 pm 
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I hear ya. I got back just last night from only a week in Mexico and had three encounters in short succession that had me thinking "well, I guess I must be back in the United States, everyone is acting like an entitled crasshole!"

Seriously, though, I have also experienced what you're talking about, as I spent 18 months living in Hong Kong about 8 years ago. I think in my case it was easier to adjust because my reasons for leaving Hong Kong involved deep depression over feeling isolated and the inability to find fulfilling work, so returning to the US was a bit of a relief and it meant moving forward towards emotional health.

In terms of adjusting, my suggestions are to focus, at least in the first few weeks, on the things about home that you loved, missed, and couldn't get in South America. Take yourself out to your favorite restaurants, go to your favorite shops, if you can spare the time and money take a mini-vacation to one of your favorite US locations. If you find yourself feeling 'homesick' for South America, push yourself to explore what aspects of that lifestyle and/or culture you can find and/or recreate here in the US. For me, that involved visits to Chinatown so I could be immersed in Cantonese again, and tracking down the best vegan dim sum in my area. Maybe you can find a friend or group that speaks Spanish (or Portuguese? I don't know where in SA you were) so you can keep up your language skills, and perhaps you'll make some new friends who have also lived where you were living or who are immigrants from that area. You can talk to each other about your favorite memories of 'back home' and have a sympathetic ear when you're missing it.

Welcome back, and good luck! It's a tough transition, but your life is all the more richer for having done it.

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 Post subject: Re: Adjusting to being home after long-term travel
PostPosted: Sun Mar 16, 2014 10:19 am 
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Mispronounces Daiya
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lutin, I know lots of people from lots of countries, not well, but now is a good time to get to know them better! They live a bit away, but once I get my motorcycle out for the year it is easy to go visit them. I'll look for cultural groups, I'm sure there is a lot here for Spanish speakers.

I definitely want to keep learning Spanish (I'm at a basic level now) so I will be looking into cheap ways to carry on with that. And I want to learn to cook a lot of the foods I ate in S. America so I will probably find friends from those countries and do a cooking day. My friends aren't going to be great to talk to since they are native speakers and I'm a beginner, but I think I can get them to do Spanish only for the first 10 minutes we hang out before we get to our normal too-complex-for-my-spanish-level conversations. And that will slowly stretch to longer as I learn more.

Erika, good point. I've drank so much soy milk in the last two days, I missed it more than any other food/drink! My tastes changed while away (eating tons of whole foods and not much processed stuff). What I thought were going to be treats when I got back, I didn't like much (daiya, soy cream cheese), so I treated myself to a pineapple at the store instead! I am looking forward to eating Indian and Vietnamese foods, so I need to make plans to do that! And I hugely missed rock climbing, I already have 4 days set up for that.

A friend of mine who also travels a ton suggested going to some couchsurfing meetups. I think I will try that. I have a few people I know and can talk to online (since we all travel a lot and are rarely in the same place), but couchsurfers will maybe be more likely to understand the drive to travel that most of my current friends are baffled by.

I'm also trying to not compare here and S.America (out loud anyway). There are so many differences, somethings I like better here, some better there, but I don't think it does me any good to make direct comparisons right now. It's like starting a new job and being that person who says "well, we did it a different way at my old job"... nobody likes that person. But I'm also trying not to lose some of the things I gained while traveling within myself... I don't want to slip back into the person I was before my trip. Which could be easy to do since I inserted myself back into basically the same surroundings that I left.

I'm already noting down ideas for future trips and figuring out how to balance that with my life with my guy and where I can incorporate him into the travels (he likes shorter trips and has no desire to be gone for more than 2 weeks at a time, so I work with that). Luckily, once I bullied him into getting his passport and going on a trip, he has decided that he likes travel - he's been to Iceland, Ecuador, and Iowa with me.


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 Post subject: Re: Adjusting to being home after long-term travel
PostPosted: Mon Mar 17, 2014 7:20 am 
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Ha, I had that on my last trip when I got there and when I came home again.
I have been doing this for years, and while my experience is probably a bit different (going from "home" to "home", so all places are familiar, if different) what I like to do is to use it to savor the things I missed when I first get back. Almost like a meditative exercise. Instead of comparing, just witnessing.
I also hear you on your tastes having changed. But that first week there- in the US I ate tortillas and bagels for a week, back in Brazil I have erva maté in the gourd and fresh mangoes for a week or so- I just try to enjoy it.

I really like what you have to say about "not becoming the person I was before the trip." That's really interesting and maybe you might want to write about it or draw about it or tease that apart a bit more.

Another vote for couchsurfing! and Pi, you might investigate the local adult literacy scene and find out where there are large clusters of people from the countries you visited. I know when I was working in that area we had heavy presences from certain countries, and adult literacy really has their finger on the pulse of that. They always need volunteers, if you're interested in that, and I learned so much (making chicha! dancing!) from the communities I worked with. They usually have connections with the local public library or school system (or both).

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 Post subject: Re: Adjusting to being home after long-term travel
PostPosted: Mon Mar 17, 2014 7:44 am 
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Pi. wrote:
Any tips or tricks to help with readjusting to being home?

I just spent 6 months in South America. I loved it there and wouldn't have come back to Boston so soon, but I missed my boyfriend and I had a good job offer (on a short-term contract which is ideal for me). I'm finding it weird to be here and while I think I am glad to be back, I also sort of wish I hadn't come back.

I've traveled a lot, but never more than a month until this trip. A month isn't a big deal, but over 6 months, I have definitely changed as a person and just gotten used to a totally different normal.


I traveled a lot and lived in a few different countries. I hear you on the adjusting back into your own country/culture. All the moving around I've done led me into not wanting to live in the country again where I'm from, everything is just too familiar to me and I can see everyone coming a mile off. Maybe one day in the future, who knows, but certainly not now. I get on with lots of people, but I feel I connect better with expats than with people that have the same nationality or local people.
Anyway, like you said travelling changes you, but you do have to give yourself time to adjust back into your routine, it's just going to take a little while. Having a routine greatly helps, like that new job and meeting your old friends and boyfriend again, etc. Make sure you find lots of activities that you enjoy. Use some of the things from the other countries that you like, foods, habits, whatever you like and use it to enrich your current life.

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 Post subject: Re: Adjusting to being home after long-term travel
PostPosted: Mon Mar 17, 2014 11:47 am 
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Mispronounces Daiya
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Joined: Wed Oct 20, 2010 2:44 pm
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Good to know that I'm not the only one that has this! My closest friends definitely didn't understand when I tried to explain it to them. All of your ideas and thoughts are very helpful and I look forward to implementing them in my life over the next few weeks.

Torque... good idea on exploring who I was before vs who I am now. I will set aside some time with my journal and large sharpie collection (perk of being home, more than 2 pen choices!) this week. I think I should keep journalling, in general, now that I am home.

Today is easier than yesterday. I'm not as annoyed by all of the people here and I remembered to speak English to the people at the stores! But I also got to talk Spanish to the lady working at one store, she was talking to someone else in Spanish before she helped me. I think it surprised her, but she was nice, spoke slowly so I could understand, and she taught me a new word!


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 Post subject: Re: Adjusting to being home after long-term travel
PostPosted: Mon Mar 17, 2014 12:24 pm 
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Pi. wrote:
Good to know that I'm not the only one that has this! My closest friends definitely didn't understand when I tried to explain it to them. All of your ideas and thoughts are very helpful and I look forward to implementing them in my life over the next few weeks.

Torque... good idea on exploring who I was before vs who I am now. I will set aside some time with my journal and large sharpie collection (perk of being home, more than 2 pen choices!) this week. I think I should keep journalling, in general, now that I am home.

Today is easier than yesterday. I'm not as annoyed by all of the people here and I remembered to speak English to the people at the stores! But I also got to talk Spanish to the lady working at one store, she was talking to someone else in Spanish before she helped me. I think it surprised her, but she was nice, spoke slowly so I could understand, and she taught me a new word!


I had the same experience with my friends, who stayed behind so to speak, not relating much to my experiences, sometimes feeling some resentment over me leaving and other times I can't relate much to their experiences either I admit. Our lives have been very different and my perspective has changed, we sometimes need time to reconnect again.

That's amazing that you were speaking Spanish! Good luck adjusting into your new (not old) life!

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 Post subject: Re: Adjusting to being home after long-term travel
PostPosted: Mon Apr 28, 2014 11:11 am 
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Mispronounces Daiya
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So 6 weeks back and I think I'm finally getting the hang of being in the USA. I'm taking spanish lessons, not as intense as I would like but all I can afford right now. I've journaled when I get really frustrated or down or happy and that has helped. I'm terrible at keeping up on it at home, but some is better than none. I made a list of foods I want to cook and when my friend visits from CA we'll make some of them (I might make some before that too)... I'm super excited to have papas rellenas, arepas and other stuff again!

What has really helped a ton is staying in touch with the guy I traveled with through much of S. America. He had to come to NYC for a bit so he visited me last week! He's headed back to Argentina this week, but will move to NYC in July so I can easily keep in touch with him. We email a few times a week and Skype once a week or so.

I've also had to chill and not try to see all of my old friends or go to as many of the events I used to go to. I was getting burnt out! Taking more time to be alone or with my guy has been good. I felt like I had an obligation to catch up with everyone, but I realized that I didn't have to fill every night with someone/something. The people who really mean it when they say "let's hang out" follow up on that and will be fine planning something for next week if this week is full enough.

I'm planning to motorcycle around the USA in June and July. When I get back I'll really throw myself into finding people to practice spanish with I've been sort of blah about it now because I know I'm leaving again soon.

While I've been plenty uncomfortable readjusting, I like who I am now and am glad that I grew and changed. I'm looking forward to seeing how motorcycling around the States will be. I'll be camping and couchsurfing as much as possible so it will be a very different trip. I'm really tempted to dip down into Mexico for a week or two... I miss being around people speaking spanish! But it will depend on how much time I have.


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