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:
- Sunny 56 degree winter weather now feels cold.
- Driving your own vehicle seems like so much effort.
- 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.
- Longing for inspirational quotes to start your day.
- Wondering where you are and why are you there? Because our time volunteering in Costa Rica was filled with purpose.
- Missing having someone recite yesterday’s activities to you (with more detail than you remembered).
- Eating meals without laughing and teasing your teammates.
- Desperately wishing you could walk only 5 minutes to work every day.
- Missing being surrounded by idealistic, curious, and eager minds.
- Still having communication challenges, but now in the same language.
And the Reverse Culture Shock Continues…
- Wondering how Tatiana manages to cook meals more delicious than the previous day.
- Expecting Anthony or Ernesto to answer your everyday questions.
- Finding yourself thinking “Pura Vida” in response to annoying everyday things that only now seem petty and inconsequential.
- Marvelling at all the room, modern conveniences, and luxury in your life.
- Sitting in the car, waiting for Ronny to drive you to your destination, and you not knowing or caring how to get there.
- Seeing cats and squirrels and wishing for headlight click beetles and sloths.
- Adjusting to regular driving, not on rustic Costa Rican roads, without views of the beautiful verdant mountains of the cloud forest.
- No longer being creeped out by bugs, spiders, or rodents because the students at Colegio taught you to appreciate them.
- Working hard all day and getting paid for it.
- 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?
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