Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Culture Shock, Jet Lag and other Assorted Thoughts

I was only out of the country 10 days, and yet when I arrived back at LAX on Sunday I felt like I had been gone a good long time.

While abroad I barely kept up with the news. When I did, I watched local Asian feeds. I knew about the cyclone in Australia. I heard many sides to the debate over Prime Minister Thaksin's running of Thailand and whether or not he should continue after he dissolved Parliament two weeks ago. I heard about Bird Flu in Asia. And I heard a totally different take on the Iraqi war. But I never heard anything American.

While abroad we relied exclusively on public transportation. Mostly we were on buses and subways, occasionally a taxi. I didn't drive for 10 days.

While abroad we visited countries that are more tolerant than our own. There was no racism, only people working side by side. We saw so many different cultures mesh together in ways that America, that great "melting pot", doesn't.

Arriving home everything feels different. I've woken up many times in the last two nights where my bed feels softer and the comforter warmer. After sweating in tropical heat, I am shivering in 40 degree temperatures and rain. I'm surrounded by my cell phones and email and cars and people speaking in English and what felt so normal to me only 10 days ago feels slightly foreign to me now.

Yesterday I was sluggish all day, yet at midnight I was wide awake. Only upon lying in bed and trying to sleep did it occur to me that I was jetlagged - of course I was wide awake and hungry at midnight, it was 3pm in Thailand.

Before I left, I was very anxious about the trip. I was worried that I wasn't travelling with friends, and as always, I was afraid of the unknown. Now all I can think about are the phrases that I learned while there, the history and culture that I enjoyed so much, and how soon I might be able to grab Wes and go back. I miss the food, I miss the exploring on the streets, and I miss the sense of freedom I got away from every day life. Who knew?


Blogger Rude Cactus said...

Regardless of the culture shock and jetlag, it sounds like a good trip. I'm a little jealous!

9:31 AM  

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