Culture: A Cure for Reverse Culture Shock- Become a Tourist in Your Own Town

A Cure for Reverse Culture Shock: Get on a Bus by Wanderlust Designer
A Cure for Reverse Culture Shock: Get on a Bus by Wanderlust Designer

There’s a bus that trundles through my neighborhood several times a day. I’m not sure where it stops or where it’s going, but I’m going to get on it. I’m craving an adventure. I’ve just returned from my longest trip (so far) and am reeling in the monotony of getting back to reality. Any seasoned traveler can empathize, I have a bad case of reverse culture shock and I need a cure!

My home just can’t compare to Paris, Venice or Istanbul, a few of the cities I have just explored. There is something so exciting about arriving in a new city, hopping on the local subway and navigating to new places. Will I be able to find the place I’m looking for? What happens if I miss my stop? Will I be able to understand anyone if I become lost and need directions? While mishaps of exploring a new city can be daunting, many times it can lead to unexpected discoveries.

The adventure doesn’t end after navigating to the new location, though, it just opens up a whole new set of experiences. What does this new place look like? What are the sounds on the street? Any new smells filling the air? Are they coming from that street vendor across the way? It’s a feast for the senses that make me undoubtedly whip out my camera and notebook and try to capture.

Perhaps all these new experiences can be exhausting for some, but I find I thrive on them. Pushing myself to try new things and get out of my comfort zone always gives me more confidence and exhilaration than the alternative. Home life just seems too easy. There’s no language barrier (unless I am speaking with my kids), there’s no difficulties in getting around, there’s few new foods, and not a lot of new sights to see.

I want to take my camera and head outside to recreate that excitement, but the factory grade double-pained windows and Home Depot stock doors just aren’t as charming as those seen in Paris. My local grocery stores’ shelves are brimming with items that don’t seem nearly as exotic or tantalizing as the bins of spices and teas at the Egyptian Spice Market in Istanbul. The ease of hopping on the subway to a new destination is no where to be found in the car-culture obsessed California where I live.

So, perhaps to remedy my illness, I should get on that random neighborhood bus and see where it takes me. There is also a train that buzzes regularly between the 2 major cities near me. I should go for a ride and have an adventure. There’s even an airport in my town. Although it’s only for private planes, maybe someone is looking for a travel mate or needs an untrained flight attendant.

As for the senses, I’m confident if I strap my camera around my neck and head out my door I will at least snap a few photos. There’s a bustling weekly farmers market in my town, filled with colorful fruits, veggies and of course people. I live close to a bay that is filled with wildlife, windsurfers and sailboats. As for food, new restaurants are popping up by the minute in my “hot little” community, perhaps I should give one a try. If not, there’s also plenty of recipes online to stretch my palette.

It seems as if the best way for me to get out of my reverse culture shock is to become a tourist in my own town. That bus ride could lead me to places I’ve never been. It could take me to somewhere familiar but with fresh eyes to explore it, could lead to something unexpected. If I sprinkle these adventures into my daily routine of family life, I can only imagine my next “real” trip will be here before I blink an eye.

One Comment

  • ausbasel1

    It’s quite surprising to me how few people travel by public transport (particularly busses) back home in the USA. Last summer, I visited my parents in a suburb of Chicago. The children and I had no car to get around. Our options were walk 40 minutes back home from the mall or take the bus for less time. Surprisingly, my 14 years old nephew preferred to walk rather than catch the bus. Well, we (actually I) called it an adventure and got on the bus. It was fun! I must say public transportation in this particular US city can not compare to the efficient Swiss transport we are used to now, but nonetheless, it worked. So I say to all…go for it.

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