Saturday, August 26, 2017

Wanderlust and Culture Shock (Courtney McKinney-Whitaker)



I love to travel. And I hate to travel.

I've always had my fair share of wanderlust, but as Jane Austen says, "Ah! There is nothing like staying at home, for real comfort."

Preach it, Sister Jane.

I've always had my fair share of culture shock, too. It has affected me everywhere I've ever gone, and at least now I know to be prepared for it—and to prepare my fellow travelers for the fact that I might be the teensiest bit of a grump the first couple of days.

Brazil: (Why all these gunshots? They found how many bodies on the beach last night? There are bugs in the shower! What do you mean I can't flush the toilet paper?!)

West of the Mississippi: (This is truly a different world. Where are all the people? These landforms are too big! Where are all your Targets, Utah? I don't want to know what that smell is, Nebraska, but I have my suspicions. That gas station/convenience store is called Runza, which does not give me great confidence in the quality of their food or their restrooms. Oh, here are all the people—crammed into Colorado.)

Qu├ębec: (How dare you be hot in July, Canada! Why is there so much poop on the sidewalks of Montreal? Like, just right in the middle. Seriously, why tho? Is it because you give the side eye to anyone who possesses a plastic bag, and therefore no one has any plastic bags with which to pick up dog poop? I really hope it's dog poop.)

Scotland: (It's 50 degrees—or whatever that is Celcius, and the sun never goes down! Time for winter coats and sunscreen, I guess. I have to rent a shopping cart in the grocery store? Is there a major problem with people stealing shopping carts in Inverness? Why are all the appliances just in random places around the house? This water is so cold except when it's scorching hot! Why is this strange washer-dryer combo thing in the kitchen? On a related note, why are all the appliances made for Hobbits? Yes, I always like to step directly into the street when I exit a shop. Who needs sidewalks?)

I've loved every one of these places, been fortunate enough to spend weeks there, and had a wonderful time in all of them. But the above quotes are all things I have also actually said. It's a flaw in my character that my feathers get ruffled by new things and I require some smoothing down. And generally, after traveling, I need some sleep and some food before I can truly appreciate a new place and its culture. I wish that character flaw weren't there, but it is.

It's not confined to travel, either. My wanderlust and susceptibility to culture shock come up in my everyday life, when I'm lucky enough to have at least the illusion of a choice about where to live.

I never wanted to live in one place my whole life. I've lived in four states so far. The U.S. is a big country, and the regions are very different, so I don't even have to get out my passport in order to experience the delights of culture shock.

New Jersey: (Everybody says, "Come on!" here, to borrow from Alice in Wonderland. It's so fast. Too many cars, too many people, too much busyness. I had to snatch my mom out of the entrance of Wegmans before she got run over by people with their shopping carts. Side note—I will forgive anywhere a whole lot for the sake of Wegmans.)

Illinois: (It's so flat. I finally learned what that smell is—fertilizer. Please people, just say what you mean. If you are mad, say so rather than smiling and keeping the peace and letting things fester until you explode all over the pulled pork and walleye potluck.)

Pennsylvania (where in fairness I have lived for only a month): (I know I said I missed hills, but this might be too many hills. I don't want to ride a roller coaster every day in my minivan. Where are my nice wide flat roads? Why are there so many people here? I know I said Illinois was the middle of nowhere, but what if I liked the middle of nowhere? Ah, things are so close together!)

I even have culture shock now when I go home to South Carolina: (Must all things be monogrammed? Are we all at great risk of having our Thirty-One lunchboxes swiped otherwise? I would believe in both your essential Southernness and your Christianity without it being loudly proclaimed on a t-shirt, but at least now I know the initials and congregational affiliations of all the strangers in line at the grocery store.)—Side Note: Y'all know it's true, but I hope I don't get Thomas Wolfe-d for that. He really couldn't go home again after he wrote You Can't Go Home Again. Or so I have been warned. #mischievousface

I hope you have laughed reading this because I laughed writing it, mostly at myself and the contradictions of my personality. Because I love to travel, and I hate to travel. I love to explore new places, and I hate to explore new places. All of these places have a soft spot forever in my heart, and I will always care about them. And I will always poke fun at them, at least a little bit, because I only tease you if I love you.

5 comments:

  1. Oh, I feel the same way! I love the idea of travel, not necessarily the actual conditions of traveling. Even on some of the best trips of my life (England, Scotland, Hawai'i), I found myself longing for the comforts of home. And home (at that time) was freakin' New Jersey. Come on!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'll admit, I'm kinda with Jane on this one!

    ReplyDelete
  3. If ya loooove to travel, dear,
    you'll looooove this:
    just imagine going to Seventh-Heaven.
    Lemme show you how to wiseabove...

    When our soul leaves our body
    (without which nthn can exist)
    and we riseabove to meet our Maker,
    only four, last things remain:
    death, judgement, Heaven or Hell.
    And dats d'fak, Jak
    (which is exactly what happened to me:
    Im an NDE - my colorFULL nomenclature).

    Find-out what RCIA is and join
    (ya might wanna check-out
    'Lui et Moi' by Gabrielle Bossis -
    a French writer, translated;
    a wonderfull novel which'll
    ROCK, YOUR, WORLD, earthling).

    Make Your Choice -SAW

    ReplyDelete
  4. If ya loooove to travel, dear,
    you'll looooove this:
    just imagine going to Seventh-Heaven.
    Lemme show you how to wiseabove...

    When our soul leaves our body
    (without which nthn can exist)
    and we riseabove to meet our Maker,
    only four, last things remain:
    death, judgement, Heaven or Hell.
    And dats d'fak, Jak
    (which is exactly what happened to me:
    Im an NDE - my colorFULL nomenclature).

    Find-out what RCIA is and join
    (ya might wanna check-out
    'Lui et Moi' by Gabrielle Bossis -
    a French writer, translated;
    a wonderfull novel which'll
    ROCK, YOUR, WORLD, earthling).

    Make Your Choice -SAW

    ReplyDelete