Then this year, I finally got to take what felt like a "real" trip, backpack strapped on, wandering through different parts of Europe, seeing new things and visiting old friends, and being able to feel like I was back in my long-term travel days, even though my gorgeous three-year-old was at my side. That real feeling of immersion in being abroad was back and I loved every minute of it.
And then I came home and it was actually only a matter of hours (less than two, in fact: just long enough to get home and shower) before I was re-immersed in the daily life of a mother of a toddler. We were off to my son's friend's birthday party just after our plane touched down and straight back to talk of children, the TV gossip, the weather, more about children, and food (most of which are not intrinsically bad topics to talk about, of course, especially food!). During that day, and the weeks that followed, I was reminded of one of the things that made my initial reverse culture shock so hard - that most people don't really want to know too much about your travels. I understand it (to some extent) and accept it, but that doesn't mean I have to like it, right?
Anyway, after only a month away I managed to fit back in reasonably quickly, but it did reignite those old reverse culture shock feelings. Shortly after that my friend Maria, who we'd visiting on the remote island of Inis Meain, had to return to Australia after six months living over there, and I could recognise my old reverse culture shock feelings in the email discussions we had as she settled back in to Aussie life. I almost want to say it is a downside of travel, but really, I try to see it as validation that travel is necessary, life-changing, perspective-altering and also a great deal of fun! You just have to take the little bit of bad with the huge dose of good.
Have you ever suffered from reverse culture shock?