06 July 2012

Making America Home Again

I have now been back in the US for almost three weeks. My heart's a mess, to say the least. I have a lot of reflecting to do...and am trying to just roll with the emotions. I want to transition well and am trying to let myself think things are weird, cool, hard, exciting, etc. Someone told me it can take a year to really transition back, which was freeing to me...I don't have to feel completely adjusted yet! Which is good, because I'm not. :)

I wrote a post similar to this in December when I was visiting the US with some similar observations and I'm finding many of the same things overwhelming. But I'm also finding the cultural adjustments a bit harder this time. Like I'm a stranger in my own country. In December, if I thought something was weird here in the US I just told myself "It's ok, you're just visiting...you'll be back in Uganda soon". This time I don't have that luxury [another issue in and of itself to sort through]. I'm trying to make America home and finding it a harder process than I expected.

So, for now and for what it's worth...here are the American things I am still getting used to:

  • PAVED roads [everywhere!] and orderly driving.
  • Advertisements everywhere.
  • Tap water for brushing teeth or drinking [I almost always think I need to bring water into the bathroom with me to brush].
  • Clean feet.
  • Eggs with yellow yolks...they look so fake! [before you ask: most eggs I saw in Uganda had white yolks].
  • Not seeing my Ugandan friends everyday.
  • Planning...the pace of life in the US is so different than in Uganda. I feel like I'm having trouble keeping up with everything.
  • Air conditioning. Mostly only banks and other 'official' buildings have air conditioning in Uganda.
  • Stuff...not sure how else to say it but there's just stuff everywhere. Stores are full of all kinds of things. And full of lots of one thing. I had a breakdown in a particularly large thrift store, of all places...I just couldn't get over how much excess people had to donate.
  • Bazungu (white people) everywhere. I got so used to being a minority, it's weird to be living in a community where there is little diversity.
  • No boda bodas...I really miss riding motorcycles. And being able to just call 'my' boda drivers to come pick me up.
  • Credit cards...swiping a card makes spending money feel a bit fake. 
  • Being able to call my fiance every day. :)
  • Shorts...after living in a culture where people dress conservatively I am often distracted by people (men and women) wearing shorts. It's weird to see so much skin! And the first time I wore shorts, I felt so naked.
  • American accents. I miss Ugandan English. And find myself saying 'Sorry' to everything.
  • Texting with a full keyboard. My American phone has a full keyboard...my phone in Uganda was just a basic phone with a number pad. I got so used to texting the 'old fashioned' way it's great to have a QWERTY keyboard again for texting again. (Hey, it's the little things, right? :))
  • Long days. Daylight on the equator is 7am-7pm...I still can't get over the fact that it stays light until after 9pm!

Anyway, those are just some of my little reflections. I'm trying to just let myself react to things as I react and feel what I feel (without analyzing why, etc.) and I figure these things are all part of the process. The process of making more than one culture home.


  1. I really appreciate your journal entries and reflections as you transition back. I remember reading about the transitioning when you first went to Uganda. It's all about time and processing. Glad that you are being kind to yourself and allowing yourself to just be about the processing in God's time rather than in your own time.

  2. Hi, Rachel. Sweetheart, I totally get you. Recently (within the past month), Nich asked me what my greatest stumbling block was when it comes to loving people. My honest answer: I still find myself getting angry at people's materialism. I have to remind myself that most people here don't know any different. The sad thing is, sometimes, I wonder if I'd have reverse culture shock going "home." Probably. I mean, even being on the lower socio-economic end of things here, I still have an abundance of "stuff."

    Hang in there, allow the Lord to give you grace, and give others the same grace.