Volunteer Robert taught conversational English skills to high school students in the the cloud forest region of Monteverde, Costa Rica for a week. He sent us this list of 15 lessons he had not expected, but values above the photos she shares with his friends.
Reverse Culture Shock
Global Volunteers asks all team members on an exit survey: “Did your Global Volunteers experience change your life?” I naïvely answered “no” before I had time to reflect. My advice to future volunteers: Please be prepared for some of these wonderful, life-enhancing and possibly perplexing life changes after serving as a volunteer abroad:
1, Feeling that sunny 56-degree winter weather feels cold after a week in the tropics.
2. Driving your own vehicle seems like so much effort after enjoying a driver every day.
3. Missing fresh juice, a delicious hot breakfast, and endless coffee refills from a gracious server.
4. Longing for inspirational quotes to start your day.
5. Wondering what’s my purpose? Volunteering abroad was filled with meaning and new perspectives.
6. Not being creeped out by bugs, spiders, or rodents because the students at Colegio taught you to appreciate them.
7. Missing reflecting on yesterday’s service activities every morning.
8. Eating meals without laughing and teasing your teammates.
9. Desperately wishing you could walk 5 more minutes to work every day.
10. Missing being surrounded by idealistic, curious, and eager minds.
11. Finding yourself thinking “Pura Vida” in response to annoying everyday things that only now seem petty and inconsequential.
12. Marvelling at all the room, modern conveniences, and luxury in your life.
13. Missing not knowing or caring each day starts or ends.
14. Working hard all day but wishing you were digging dirt, painting buckets, and/or teaching conversational English and not getting paid for it.
15. Recognizing that while some might call this reverse culture shock, I now value it as a subtle change in my life.
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