It is inevitable to experience “reverse culture shock” after spending a long period of time abroad. Culture shock is the experience of a new language, food, people, and trying to make sense of a unique culture. The “reverse” is the strangeness of returning home and getting back to your real life. I spent almost five months living in Medellín, making friends, studying Spanish, working, and having the best (and worst) of times. Reality was calling (aka my bank account was struggling) and I decided to accept a job in the U.S. to save up some money. Not only was I returning to the U.S. and beginning work three days upon arrival, but I was moving to the suburbs of Illinois and inheriting a toddler and a medium-sized dog. No, I didn’t adopt an adorable Colombian toddler (but I was tempted!), but I began a three-month live-in nanny job in Evanston, Illinois for a two-year old, Thomas, and a German Shepherd mix, Mr. Hooper.
Talk about life change. The altitude has changed dramatically (5,000 feet to 600 feet). The language has changed in my favor (making life a heck of a lot easier). The currency is now against my favor (making me really appreciate the price of taxis in Medellín). The cleaning is much easier (hello, dryers and vacuums!) The weather has been shocking to my system (75 degrees and sunny with rain verses 12 degrees with snow and ice). I’m missing many things about Colombia already, including my friends, the fresh juices, reggaeton music, the new experiences every week, and the smiling people. As much as I’m missing my life in Colombia, I can’t get over how much I love my friends in the U.S. I surprised my best friend in Chicago when I returned and nothing makes me smile more than seeing a friend happy.. and then celebrating and catching up for two nights with many people I’ve missed a lot. All in all, I guess my world has completely flipped and I really haven’t had time to determine if I like it or not since I dove right into a new home, a new job, and a new life.
This new life has a lot less adventure and a lot less flexibility. My life is pretty much a schedule revolving around a (very cute) toddler. It involves waking up much earlier than I ever woke up in Medellín and entertaining a child for almost twelve hours with a set time for breakfast, two snacks, lunch, and dinner. I fill our day with playing outside (when we won’t freeze!), lots of Play-Doh, coloring, puzzles, books, and following Mr. Hooper around the house. Our weekly outings include Mommy Child yoga, Wiggleworms, and speech therapy. When Thomas naps, I get a solid two to three hours of alone time. Thank goodness. As a new member of the family, I’m lucky that everyone is nice and welcoming. I’m not going to lie, I was a little nervous to move in with a family I had never met. I had a good feeling about it, but it could have been a nightmare! I’m only a 30-minute Metra train ride away from my friends in Chicago and get plenty of free time. They hired me without meeting me in person (why I love Skype) and I am their first live-in nanny. I came into the situation with excitement to be “home” and to save up a lot of money. Not only am I making more in one week of work here than my entire time in Medellín, but I have plenty of time in my schedule to get back into yoga and continue studying Spanish. I’ve also started studying for the GRE, the ghost that’s been haunting me since graduation. I will continue to miss my life of adventure in Medellín, but at the moment, I’m content spending my life of luxury enjoying the ‘burbs.