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Reverse Culture Shock After Spending a Week in Costa Rica

reverse culture shock

Volunteer Robert writes about his “reverse culture shock” upon returning home to Washington after volunteering at a secondary school in the the cloud forest region of Monteverde, Costa Rica for a week. Here’s his list of 20 things he had not expected! 

Reverse Culture Shock

Attention Global Volunteers Costa Rica Team #233:

There is a question on the exit survey that you fill out that asks: “Did your Global Volunteers experience change your life?” I naïvely answered “no” – please don’t repeat my mistake. Upon returning to the good ol’ USA, be prepared for the following changes:

  1. Sunny 56 degree winter weather now feels cold.
  2. Driving your own vehicle seems like so much effort.
  3. Sitting down to breakfast, you may find yourself waiting for hours for Anthony to bring you fresh juice, a delicious hot breakfast, and endless coffee refills.
  4. Longing for inspirational quotes to start your day.
  5. Wondering where you are and why are you there? Because our time volunteering in Costa Rica was filled with purpose.

    reverse culture shock

    Robert with Costa Rican students Jessica and Stacy

  6. Missing having someone recite yesterday’s activities to you (with more detail than you remembered).
  7. Eating meals without laughing and teasing your teammates.
  8. Desperately wishing you could walk only 5 minutes to work every day.
  9. Missing being surrounded by idealistic, curious, and eager minds.
  10. Still having communication challenges, but now in the same language.
    reverse culture shock

    Volunteers Bill and Robert talking with Costa Rican students

    And the Reverse Culture Shock Continues…

  11. Wondering how Tatiana manages to cook meals more delicious than the previous day.
  12. Expecting Anthony or Ernesto to answer your everyday questions.
  13. Finding yourself thinking “Pura Vida” in response to annoying everyday things that only now seem petty and inconsequential.
  14. Marvelling at all the room, modern conveniences, and luxury in your life.
  15. Sitting in the car, waiting for Ronny to drive you to your destination, and you not knowing or caring how to get there.

    reverse culture shock

    The team that turned the tire for planting!

  16. Seeing cats and squirrels and wishing for headlight click beetles and sloths.
  17. Adjusting to regular driving, not on rustic Costa Rican roads, without views of the beautiful verdant mountains of the cloud forest.
  18. No longer being creeped out by bugs, spiders, or rodents because the students at Colegio taught you to appreciate them.
  19. Working hard all day and getting paid for it.
  20. Working hard all day but wishing you were digging dirt, painting buckets, and/or teaching conversational English and not getting paid for it.

Some might call this reverse culture shock. I now see it as subtly changing lives.

Maggie, can you please change my response to the survey question?

reverse culture shock

Robert all dirty from working and very content in Costa Rica

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