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Reverse culture shock is real

Humor columnist Erin Clancy describes her experience with reverse culture shock

Before I left Spain at the end of my study abroad semester, I basically scoffed at the professors’ warnings that “reverse culture shock”
Before I left Spain at the end of my study abroad semester, I basically scoffed at the professors’ warnings that “reverse culture shock”

Before I left Spain for the United States at the end of my study abroad semester a couple weeks ago, I had basically scoffed at the professors’ warnings that “reverse culture shock” would be a thing. I figured that the transition would be easy, that I would just drop back in at home like nothing had changed — like I had never even left at all. 

And, boy, was I wrong. These past few weeks at home, I’ve realized that I have come back changed — enough so that I don’t really know if I can even call myself an American anymore. I’m basically a Spaniard (well, despite the whole Spanish fluency thing), and I am able to look at life here in the United States through a Spaniard’s eyes. 

As such, and to share my views with you Union folk so as to perhaps enlighten you to new cultures, I have compiled a list of American habits I find very strange that have ushered me into this new sense of culture shock.

  1. You wear your fanny packs around your waist: Intuitively, this might make a lot of sense, considering they’re called “fanny” packs (disgusting, by the way), but this position is completely foreign to us Spaniards. We prefer to wear them slung over one shoulder and across our fronts in a diagonal display of fashion, in order to keep our important stuff away from our, um, important parts.
  2. Your sense of style: Speaking of fashion, you Americans are absolute slobs when it comes to your clothing choices (and most other things, for that matter). I mean really, did your mother let you leave the house in those ratty sweatpants you bought from Goodwill five years ago? I would rather not be subjected to your slovenliness on my morning grocery run, and it is very rude of you to assume that I do.
  3. Your speaking volume: When I still culturally identified as an American, I was shushed at least four times in Spain by restaurant owners, waiters, patrons and even pedestrians. At the time, I was insulted by this — I saw it as an attack not on my loudness, but on my Americanness. Now that I am back in America, I can say with certainty: You are so loud. You really don’t have to yell louder every time someone speaks. It’s like you’re playing the penis game with regular conversation. Plus, I’m beginning to think you guys don’t even care to listen to what people other than yourself are saying.
  4. Donald Trump is your president: Americans abroad carry around the burden of explaining that most of America actually doesn’t like their own president. Then you come back and remember that about 40 percent still do.

These are just some of the things that have thrown me for a loop since I’ve gotten back to America. Stay tuned for additions to this list after I start school again and am shocked that I — WHAT? — can’t travel every weekend for cheap and that, for some reason, I have to actually do my work rather than watch Spanish game show television.