Hobbies to [reverse culture] shock you – a post for my dear expat friends

29 Jul

HOBBIES TO [REVERSE CULTURE] SHOCK YOU  How many hobbies does it take for a blonde to get over reverse culture shock? Six: golf, dressmaking, scuba diving, jogging, bushwalking and even burlesque dancing.

It might sound like a joke but it’s my life.

I’ve been back in the “western world” for almost half as long as I was gone and I’ve only just made it through all the typical phases of reverse culture shock:

  • the honeymoon period when I fell in love with all the little things I’d missed;
  • the shock phase which consisted of panic attacks over (what then seemed like) absurd retail prices and feeling like I didn’t belong; and
  • finally the adaptation phase as I recognised good opportunities, accepted benefits of the Aussie lifestyle and became used to and even excited about the idea of sticking around Brisbane for a while longer.

I look over Brisbane city from Mt Coot-tha. Bushwalking has become a hobby and coping mechanism.

The only way I really kicked reverse culture shock, though, was by getting to know my long term enemies: routine and commitment. I didn’t go crazy and sign up for a two-year phone contract or anything silly like that – I said “commitment”, not “long-term commitment”. It was new hobbies that gave me regular activities to look forward to in the short term and connected me with the Brisbane community.

Settling back into Australia was more difficult than I expected and much harder than adjusting to Vietnam. I’ve continued missing the affordable travel and daily social events of my Vietnamese lifestyle but, of course, that’s only natural. Now I’m focused on enjoying the “sunshine state” with its beautiful national parks, beaches, dancing venues and welcoming new friends.

I quite like Brisbane and it could even turn into love. But I’m taking it slow – just one hobby at a time.

By Marissa Toohey

This post is dedicated to my dearest friends from Vietnam, many whom are now returning to Australia as well. I hope you all cherish the exciting moments when you realise you can drink tap water again and walk down a footpath without getting abused by a motorbike driver. I equally encourage you to allow yourselves to mourn the loss of your Vietnamese lifestyles because we had a f*cking good time that would be hard to top. Wishing you all the best in your returns, reunions with family and friends, your coping mechanisms, new hobbies and future adventures. I genuinely hope we all remain great friends for many years to come.

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2 Responses to “Hobbies to [reverse culture] shock you – a post for my dear expat friends”

  1. Jess August 3, 2011 at 5:05 PM #

    I’m still finding being able to drink tap water – and brush my teeth with it – a novelty, and I’ve been back from a six week trip for almost 5 months now! xxx

    • theBubbleBuster August 3, 2011 at 10:37 PM #

      haha I love it Jess! How quickly time flies though… Can’t wait for the next trip x

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