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Quick Post: Returning From Being an Ex-Pat

CNN had this mildly humorous, incredibly truthful article about what it’s like to return from a life abroad.  I will co-sign pretty much everything in this article.  Coming home is far worse than leaving, and everyone I’ve ever talked to who has been an ex-pat will probably agree with me.  Coming home from Germany was one of the worst experiences of my life.  It took me almost a year to finally readjust to living in the US again.

I think the biggest problem with coming home is that you expect everything to be the same, and you expect that everyone and everything will have paused while you took a big “time out” from your life in the US.  The problem is that you can never step into the same river twice, because it’s always moving.  … This might be slightly less true if you’re from bum-f**k nowhere like me.  Jacksonville, Illinois, hasn’t changed much since, well, ever.  I think the only major change has been perhaps in the demographic, as there seem to be more old people now.

Anyway, I found this to be a pretty humorous read, so if you, like me, have ever been an angry ex-pat who just got off the plane and can’t stand to listen to the American accent for one more minute, this article is for you.  Man, I remember getting off the plane in Atlanta coming back from Germany, and having to listen to everyone’s obnoxious American English drove me to distraction.  I wanted to punch everyone around me, except the travelers speaking another language.  I think I’d gotten so used to being able to tune out the German, somewhat, that being forced to listen to my native language constantly was actually annoying.

This is another thing that most people don’t think about, but you really have to watch your mouth.  I find that I develop a sailor’s mouth while I’m abroad, if for no other reason than most people in the new country don’t understand colorful English language.  You have to really start watching yourself when you get home.  On a similar note, you can’t talk about the people around with impunity, since everyone around you can understand you.  I guess that means that you have to start speaking your new language whenever you want to throw shade at people.  Good thing that I’m relatively confident that there aren’t many German or Korean speakers in downstate Illinois.  Actually, I’m fairly convinced that unless they are of Asian descent, most Americans don’t have a clue about any Asian language, so there you go.

And oh yeah, the thing about constantly comparing America to the other countries you visited?  Americans absolutely don’t give a shit.  They don’t.  America is too geographically isolated for Americans to care about anywhere else in the world, I’m convinced.

Ah, reverse culture shock.  Can’t wait!

CNN: Ultimate checklist for returning US ex-pats