I thought the extent of my reverse culture shock was my eyeroll at all the American travellers wearing sweatpants and sweatshirts. Transitioning back to life at home, working in the summer, was relatively painless. My parents and sister were still great, my relatives were still lovely, and my friends still understood me. Elior had been abroad and we’d kept up on each other’s lives, so there was little distance between us. Reconnecting with Marissa was great, being with Lilly and Cristina was fun as always. My work family at the restaurant was an amazing pool of new and old coworkers. Couldn’t get much better than this, besides missing London and travelling, but that’s to be expected.
So now I’m back at college and it’s here that RCS is impacting me the most. I knew I’d changed in some ways but that didn’t affect my relationships at home. Here, many of the friends I cultivated over 2.5 years look pretty different through a post-study abroad-colored lens.
True, it’s only my second day here. However, about 1/3 of the people I’ve seen aren’t interesting to me anymore: I’m not willing to extend my personality in ways I used to. Just like how I lost much of my bubbliness in the chasm between high school and college, I now lack the ability and patience to listen to BS. I demand realness from conversation and interaction. If we hang out, please tell me things that matter and don’t waste my time. After being abroad, I’m now especially prepared to be happy by myself somewhere else. Even though Middletown isn’t popping with culture, there are still many things I could do instead of listen to a bunch of people about whom I used to think highly chat about trivial things. I guess I’m happier being alone than I used to, too, so I’m not receiving that social self-esteem boost that attending parties used to give me. I’m happy with who I am, so although socializing is great (in some forms- see next paragraph), it’s not as powerful as it once was.
Now, I’m finding that I love to chat with cashiers and clerks and anyone with whom wants to actually talk with me. I like talking with people I don’t know. They’re each little boxes with untold facts and opinions and quirks inside. In comparison, these old college friends feel stale.
I don’t recognize the majority of the students here anymore. I feel like a freshman with the confidence and knowledge of a senior.
Yesterday, at a get-together with some kids I used to really like before London, Sarah said I looked bored. And I was. I spoke rarely, not hastening to assert my own point of view about what felt like an inconsequential topic. I dislike wasting my breath and energy.
Some people have told me that I act like I’m 25. In some ways, I agree. But knowing that makes looking at the school year ahead rather daunting.
I’m really excited for all the activities and classes to start up. Finding enough of my new chosen type of socialization will be a challenge I’m ready to accept, but not without first mourning the loss of a few friends. However, they weren’t that great to begin with. So, maybe it’s for the best. Closer to the truth.