Am I Just a Stranger in a Strange Land Now?

By Nomadic Matt | Published April 19th, 2012

A stranger walking near a tree with an orange backgroundWe travel around the world to seek foreign lands, but sometimes after returning home, we find out that home is the real foreign land. After three weeks of being back in America, I feel like I am a stranger in a strange land. America has changed. There’s something different about it this time around.

I’ve been home before. I spent the summer of 2010 in New York City, and I circle home every so often to visit my parents. I’m over the culture shock.

When I told people in Asia I was heading home, they asked me if I was nervous or afraid about being able to adjust. “No, I’ve been home before,” I said. “I’ll be fine.”

But then I came home and realized that while I didn’t have any “culture shock,” something was different. I had changed. America seemed to have changed too. The pulse of the country was different.

There’s more crap on TV. The country seems more superficial. (Why is everything a Real Housewives of… show?)

Food portions seem to be even larger than before.

Kids seem much more cruel these days. People don’t seem as polite or nice to each other anymore.

The nation is far more divided. Every issue is blown out proportion and is a test for your politics: right, left, tea party, etc.

All in all, to me, it just feels different here now.

Then again, maybe America was always like this, and I just never noticed before. Maybe I always spent so much time on trips home seeing new places and catching up with friends that I never stopped and took stock of the home I took for granted.

Or maybe what I finally noticed is that I’ve changed. They say travel changes you—
but I’ve never noticed it. Since you’re with yourself everyday, you never really see changes in your personality. They just become part of you and seem like second nature. It’s not like when you go on a diet or take drastic action. Changes on the road are slow and happen over time, and you just feel as though you were always this way.

I think being back has made me finally realize that I’ve changed.

And that somehow I don’t fit here anymore.

You know when you get a feeling that something is missing, but you just can’t put your finger on it? That’s the feeling I have now.

There’s something about being in America (and not just my parents’ house in the suburbs; I’ve had this feeling since touching down in Las Vegas) that’s making me feel uneasy.

I feel less connected to the rest of the world. I feel like I’m living in a bubble. That all the events happening outside of America aren’t even registering here. It’s like I can’t get anywhere whenever I want. It’s like I’m cut off from the world.

I spent the last few months of my trip in Cambodia while I wrote my book. But even there, in one place, I felt like the world was connected to me. That at any given moment, I could go anywhere or do anything. I don’t feel that here. I feel like the outside world is more than just a flight or bus ride away. That to get out I have to break free of this invisible barrier that doesn’t exist overseas.

On the other hand, maybe I’m just full of shit. Part of me feels like I only “feel” this way because I want to feel this way. Maybe by looking for a problem, I’m unconsciously trying to justify a desire not to settle down and find an excuse. Maybe this is just my inner self wrestling over the realization that my backpacking, nomad days are over. After all, transitions can be tough.

I don’t know. I’m just thinking out loud. Something is different this time around. I can’t put my finger on it or know if it will last forever, but something has changed, and only time will tell if this feeling is just a temporary unease over changing my life or something more permanent.

comments 84 Comments

Just because you’ve decided to stop backpacking and make a home doesn’t mean it HAS to be in America!

Liam

Just a thought, Matt, but what says you have to settle down in the USA? Why not base yourself somewhere else?

Treaviol

I believe he is settling outside of the US. He’s just passing through for a bit. I might be wrong.

NomadicMatt

I’ll be living in Sweden for July to December.

Simon ChewJH

Well, I have a similar experience though I do not travel as much, but then sometimes I think that the huge cultural difference between the “East” and the “West” is just so massive that once you spent too much time in one place, you tend to adapt unknowingly until you slowly replace your values and memories.

It is nothing to fret about in my personal experience, I always enjoy learning new things in life, even if it made home almost an alien country, sometimes I think that in a place where we are comfortable with, there should be a little adventure that needs to be in there

I do think the United States has changed a lot since 9/11, become more polarized, more us-against-them, more militaristic. I also think the United States has always been a bit of a bubble, which has something to do with the oceans on either side…and something to do with our media and politicians not encouraging us to be more aware. But there are lots of positive things going on. Take some time to learn about the Occupy movement and the Transition and local food movements, and you might feel more connected. A couple of good resources are Yes! magazine and Cultural Survival (both based in the United States).

J J Kosmac

Matt…some great observatios about yourself, the USA and the world…as someone who yearns for the “nomadic life” I too feel a sense of unease here at home which makes me feel like taking “flight” looking for peace and adventure…you have also changed as you have assimulated into the role of World Citizen…you are more self-aware from your years of travel…and I believe you will find your course for the future with more ease than ever before because your frame of reference is so universal…please keep writing about these issues because they are more relevant than ever…

NomadicMatt

I will certainly try!

Izy berry

I am going home for the first time in like 9 months and I am excited , but worried too . I am only beck for a few weeks, so things should be fun and the shock minimal !

I have been in America the past week and lol, while its pleasant and beautiful, it feels like something is missing, a realness.

NomadicMatt

Time for a new trip then!

Well written Matt, maybe the feeling of “more getting stranger” with origin country after travelling will more happen in traveler from developing countries, like me.. Or maybe it will occur when traveler just came from any destination which 180 degree different from their origin country.

Just like me and my friends, after going from developped countries, we will do comparison, complain about something we don’t like from our country.

NomadicMatt

Can’t wait to hear what you think.

I wasn’t out of the country nearly as long as you, Matt, but I found readjustment after a year away to be challenging. TV was shit, especially the ads. The air conditioning was always too cold. Lunches were huge, but I didn’t have enough time to eat them. Cars were so big, and shops were too far away. Everyone talked about money constantly. I was unhappy. My then-wife was unhappy too. She divorced me. Being back in the U.S. sucked. Eventually, though, I learned to cope, at least somewhat. I watch less TV. I got rid of cable. I read fewer newspapers. I share meals when I dine out. I try hard not to acquire stuff I don’t need. I enjoy the outdoors when I can. Nine years have gone by, and I still think about leaving a hundred times a day. So I’m sorry I can’t assure you the uneasiness goes away. But it does become more manageable.

Anthony

Well, it sounds like you’ve officially gotten old.

In all seriousness though, I’ve had that feeling too, and it gets worse every time I come back. As uncomfortable as it is, I try not to completely get rid of it, since it reminds me that there are other ways of living. Hopefully, it will help me avoid becoming just another insulated, polarized, rude, overfed American.

Sounds like reverse culture shock to me. This is home. It will feel right as soon as you let it. That’s been my experience.

There’s A LOT that’s wrong here, but there’s a lot that’s right too :)

NomadicMatt

There’s no place better for a good deli sandwich….or Taco Bell!

I can relate somewhat, especially to that bubble phrase. The way out of it is DON’T let yourself live in a bubble. Read papers from other parts of the world. Get news from places and people outside the US you are interested in.

It’s easy to fall into the trap and I can see more then ever why Americans do live in the little bubble, but I have somewhat managed to not, even though I’ve been home for 3+ years now.

NomadicMatt

Luckily, I’m getting out of the states! I think I just need to adjust into small doses.

We were stateside for a year after living overseas for five years. It was… odd coming back. I think I have to agree with your observation about America being in its little bubble-world. I remember getting to my in-laws house in 2010 and all over the news was this stupid story about Mel Gibson’s girlfriend and her recordings of his tirades, and there was major stuff happening ALL OVER THE WORLD. Yet that was all the news stations were reporting. It was sickening and disconcerting at the same time. We adjusted during our year in the USA, but I couldn’t WAIT to get back overseas. Now, there are plenty of problems where we live, but I think I’ve been converted to the ex-pat life. All I need is an occasional Tex-Mex fix (b/c I’m from Texas and that stuff is like crack for us) and I’m good to go!

I don’t think it’s just you. I’ve been mostly hanging my hat in America for the past four or five years (geeze, that sounds long) with only little travels in between and I’ve felt a palpable difference here in the past 6 months or so. The political split (and the meanness…the meanness feels worse than before…or maybe I was oblivious during the last couple elections?) feels different. The attitudes feel different. I do think TV has always been pretty well crap (with a few notable exceptions), but I can’t speak to that too much, as I haven’t owned a TV in like 8 years.

Anyway, all this to say, I don’t think it’s just that traveling has changed you. I do think America has changed recently.

And I too feel like fleeing.

NomadicMatt

Glad I’m not alone. It’s good to know someone else feels the same way. One of the reasons I like blogging.

TV seems like an unusual criticism as by all accounts we’re living in the golden age of television. I think most travelers don’t watch much TV and viewing habits in general for this generation has changed with streaming and online downloads.
Sometimes there’s a simplicity in not not knowing so much (less TV channels, less experiences/lifestyles to compare with) but the joy is always in the search.

AK

Matt,

Sounds like it is a little bit of everything that you said…good to mull it around and let yourself move through this transition. There is the up and down side of every place…when you change your perspective of wherever you are, you will see those things that resonate with you – the things that you find positive even here in the US. Some people enjoy those things that you consider negative…all depends on your perspective. And, I practice detachment with all those things that I find that are not supporting my joy/perspective. Good luck with your transition and there are always opportunities to travel even if you’re settled somewhere, as you know.

Hi Matt. I have been many times to the U.S and while I can’t claim to fully grasp the perspective of an actual native, I have felt and witnessed that sense of cultural isolation, specially outside the big cities and in the typical suburbs. Which also explains a lot of the perspective -or lack thereof- that many U.S. residents have in regards to overseas affairs and its attitude towards the rest of the world (the “here be dragons” joke on every other land that is not within the States’ boundaries, for example). I can’t generalize or typecast though – I know enough of the (north) American society at this point to know there are many people that are not like that. But the vast majority of the typical, plain vanilla white American suburbanites certainly do lean towards that direction.

Big cities (on both coasts) are less likely to feel this isolated precisely because of their historic immigration and the cultural melting pot that occurs. A multicultural city can’t really afford to isolate itself from what’s happening beyond its boundaries.

But anyway, constant and conscious travel *does* change you as a person. I like to say it is the best cure against racism, bigotry and self-aggrandizing selfishness I know. And when you have been exposed to other views and perspectives of the world, you can be more critical (or praiseful, as it can also be) of yours in a way that you weren’t able of before. Which is what is probably happening to you.

NomadicMatt

I couldn’t agree more with you!

I feel the same way. The US is so different. My husband was applying for PhD’s one in the US and the other in Chile. I was praying for Chile, it seems less foreign to me.
He got into Chile and now we’re freaking out cause it’s as expensive as the US – LOL!

Either way, it’s still latin america.

NomadicMatt

Better than the states :)

Meretchi

Matt,
I know what you’re talking about. I had similar feelings when I came home after travelling. It’s been two years now, I’ve moved to a different country again and settled there, and slowly, I start to feel that I might actually be able to go back home. Life gets a different focus when you travel. You get used to noticing things more than you ever did at home. So when you get home, you notice all that stuff that you ignored all your life because you took it for granted. Take your time, take it easy, and remember, when it gets too bad, nothing will stop you from going somewhere else again. Good luck to you

I totally felt the same when I returned home to Germany last year after several years travelling and living abroad. I settled down in Berlin, and man was it strange the first couple months. Now, 12 months later, I feel adjusted. And what am I doing? Packing my bags again on a one-way ticket to SEA. I can’t live here anymore, those times are over. I know now. This time for sure.
All the best to you man. You rock.

NomadicMatt

I think that time will make this a lot better. I just need to adjust to being in one place.

François

Well-written and heartfelt… hard to put into words what goes through your mind. I went to Nepal for a month two years ago and the first six months back were hell. I wanted out of everything, even my mariage. It was insane. Now it has settled down and I can understand more the profound effect it has had on me. I cannot be part of a consumer western-style type of living. I have finally quit my job and I am going bicycle touring for the next 6 months to a year. I know that that is not a panacea of itself but it’s part of an overall process of bridging a very un-united world.

well said. I have felt the same and have posted on related topics like reverse culture shock, living abroad and returning home . I believe that “once you’ve lived abroad/an expat life, it becomes part of your identity and who you are, and you lose a part of who you were.” Transitions are tough and hopefully with time, you will find a place that brings together many of the things you love about where you’ve lived or traveled to. I’ve had to look long and hard for a place stateside that doesn’t fit the description you give of this country – the negatives stuck out when I returned too (big cement parking lots with cookie cutter shopping malls, disgusting food, bad manners, bad clothes, no culture, etc..). but those places are out there! – filled with people like us, too!

NomadicMatt

I’ll have to get to an expat city then. Luckily, there are a lot in the world.

I know what you mean. After 8 years of travel, I want to go home to New Zealand but I think maybe I’ve outgrown it…

You did well articulating something you can’t put your finger on with this article. I found that any time I have been “away” travelling the world, hiking/canooing in the wilderness, or wandering in a desert I feel an apartness from what is supposed to be home and familiar culture upon my return. Personal growth is part of it….and in that process one often tends to no longer place the same value on the goals that so many of the people from our homeland are frantically trying to work for. It’s like watching ants busily going to and fro and realizing that for them this is all that counts, but from your perspective you are seeing SO much more and yet are aware that what you see is still only an ant’s worth of the world. It’s like watching society get excited about a wheel when you know there are planes that fly…whole different perception. Often what is important to them is no longer important to you, and vice versa. Sometimes one never fits back in, which that brings on an opportunity to step outside the box forever and design a life less ordinary. Just because the world hasn’t discovered the full range of colours to create with doesn’t mean you can’t. Paint your life with all the vibrant episodes that have meant the most to you, and be your own counter-culture.

NomadicMatt

Maybe I’m coming to the realization that where I fit might not be here. Like you say, sometimes you just outgrow a place. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

Jesse

Matt, to be honest its a little of both. In fact, I’d almost say the country has changed more than you or me. Even with my travels abroad I’m still in the US the majority of time and every year I see a move towards the US you just described, more and more. I kind of hate it, common sense is anything but common, food options and portions are nothing short of ridiculous, and don’t get me started on politics. You will learn to ignore the negatives and focus on the positives, or you’re bound for a psychotic episode, hopefully the former. But if you have the option to base elsewhere, do it! The modern US is best taken in small doses.

NomadicMatt

I think so. A few months here, lots of months elsewhere – it might be the way to go!

I think a part of what you are saying is right. Things surrounding American politics and the trickle-down of that are very hostile lately – people continuously argue about issues that don’t really matter. The reality TV craze has also gotten out of control, and I can see first-hand how it has changed the country’s youth…Ugh.

NomadicMatt

I’m still trying to figure out how pot holes are political.

Treaviol

I think America has always been like this or at least for a while. It might be intensifying because the people are growing desensitized to all the hype.

NomadicMatt

Maybe I’ve just been away for awhile.

Matt, that was really gutsy to share that post. Listen to your heart. It is different this time.

NomadicMatt

Thanks.

DianeM

Just a few similar and additional thoughts:

I liked the point made above about the U.S. being disconnected from the rest of the world, divided by 2 oceans and a lot of space. We grow up with some form of indoctrination into the idea that we are the best, that the U.S. is the land of liberty and equality, and to some degree a lot of people buy it. it takes living elsewhere to discover that in many other places, people co-exist much more respectfully.

And I continue to feel a general sense that people are more and more unhappy, and consequently more and more rude, abrupt and self-absorbed. The “feel” of driving, of being in grocery stores, just the dailiness, of everyone’s “hurry” being the most important hurry,etc.

At times I can understand, and feel some compassion and sadness, but the subtle, constant brutality makes me long to live elsewhere.

I know that it is an unavoidable anthropological and sociological process for any young superpower to descend before evolving, but I feel so sad for our next generation of children to have to fall into that particular time frame in this country.

I agree with the last poster, it was brave of you to write this. I too get the feeling sometimes that American politics are actually poisoning America. The rhetoric is so angry and negative, and it makes the ensuing conversations about politics the same way. You’re not imagining it, things have changed, and whether or not you want to make a permanent break from America, it is nice to take a breather from the political circus every now and then!

NomadicMatt

With the changes, maybe I’ll live overseas a little longer.

rob

It’s not just you. Years ago I became an expat Canadian living in Sweden. Returned to Canada and really couldn’t settle down. It just didn’t feel like home any more. A business trip took me to Colorado and the combination of familiar language/culture, a beautiful place and enough difference to require adapting was what I needed. Been here quite a while now :)

But every time I go on a long trip I come home to the question “Is it time to pack up and move on, and if so where?”.

Depending on how long you’ve been gone, America is different, and not necessarily for the better. Good luck with this.

Colleen

Matt, I want to validate your observations. You are not imagining things. What you’re feeling is accurate. Here are some of your comments that I agree with wholeheartedly as a 47 year old American who’s visited 40 other countries.

1. TV is just dark and poisonous. It’s like drinking battery acid for the soul.
2. Food portions are ridiculous, but people are hungry for it because processed nutrient-free foods leave people feeling hungry even after a full meal.
3. Kids are definitely meaner. School is a very tough place emotionally for kids of every socioeconomic bracket. Who are their positive models anymore? MTV, TV, movies, sports and celebrities supply very few examples of how to live well.
4. Polarized politics is one thing, but the way people speak to each other in the media is disgusting. Where is the human kindness and respect for the individual, regardless of his viewpoint? In my own short life we’ve gone from being kind and respectful regardless of differing opinions, to complete disrespect for anyone with a different view. It’s dehumanizing.
5. As a culture Americans are profoundly disconnected from the world which is something long observed by people visiting us from other countries. We’re so engrossed in so many different forms of entertainment that SEEM REAL to us. Sports, tv, celebrity nonsense, etc, we’re missing the real world out there almost altogether. Yes, it does feel to me, too like America is a bubble disconnected from the rest of the world.

Thanks for the rant.

NomadicMatt

You’re welcome. It was a very good rant!

Austin

Sounds like culture shock to me bud.

NomadicMatt

Guess so….

culture shock is like tripping on mushrooms. it’s never the same experience twice.

Yep.. things have changed and so have you.

I’ve been home nearly 3 years now and rarely watch TV. There seems little difference between the human theater of “reality” TV and the arguing that somehow passes as news.

I still don’t feel I’ve settled-down. I don’t know if it’s possible after an extended journey. Travel makes you aware of things you can no longer ignore. It’s not a bad thing. I don’t think you get over these feelings, you just learn to accept your new perspective and in time you are calmer for it.

Hang in there and allow yourself to process it all (no doubt there is a lot!), it’s gonna take a while.

I totally relate. I think it’s both. America has changed, as all things change. It does feel a lot colder and starker. And we change too. Thank God.

I really noticed it when I went home to west Africa a few years ago. My village has a few cell phones now. It was a shock to the system.

I am very interested in starting a hostel but need a partner. Are you interested in talking about this at all? Any travelers on the site reading this can contact me as well. I”m thinking north america or senegal.

I’m in LA at the moment but I’m camped out in Chicago for the summer. Come visit!

NomadicMatt

I’m moving to Sweden! Come visit.

Joe

Hey Matt,

Just found out about your site today from NerdFitness. I’ve never really been outside the US and I have to say your observations in this post are dead on. Children do seem a lot meaner and disrespectful. Portion sizes do seem to always grow. The atmosphere of the country is “changed”. TV is crap. I can’t wait to go somewhere else for a change. I have a friend in the Phillipines and I’ve asked her to figure out some travel arangements for me. Now just to get there…

NomadicMatt

There’s plenty of ways to get there. Great to have you here!

I have the same feeling about my home Switzerland after travelling one year through Asia. In my case I think it is, because I have developped into a freer person and somehow can’t imagine to get back into the system.
I somehow have detached and don’t want to go back.

just something that made me think of this post..
the guy who writes Sovereign Man mentioned that he’s back in Chile and they greeted him with welcome arms when they saw how many stamps of “Chile” was on his passport and said “welcome home”. When he goes back “home” to the states, he gets a rundown with guys carrying guns… not exactly welcoming to be home. Same thing for Wandering Earl. He was on a terrorist list for a long time and everytime he went back to his home in the states it was hell.

I am sort of afraid to go back to the states after 2 years. I was there BRIEFLY last year for a week in Florida, but it wasn’t that shocking because I didn’t really do much other than a tradeshow (it was a work assignment).

Paul

You are correct that this country has changed (devolved?). Your observations are accurate. I haven’t gone anywhere, but I don’t feel like I fit in here either.

NomadicMatt

I feel like everyone feels like a stranger these days. Maybe it’s a sign things will change soon….for the better.

Interesting perspective. I suspect it’s a bit of everything you mentioned. America has definitely changed, but I’m sure the changes in you matter as well.

Chrissy

Matt, this article just about brought me to tears. Not because of how sad it is, but because in this article you have managed to express everything I have thought and felt the past four months since returning to the U.S. from abroad. I spent 18 months abroad and new I would experience some sort of reverse culture shock, but never thought I’d ever be incapable of handling it. The U.S. is different now, but then again I am also different. As much as I love my home, I am ready to leave again. Home will always be home and the people that matter will always be there, so we may as well go and live and do thw things that make us happy, whereve it may be. I hope to be back abroad for another two years in a couple of months. Keep your fingers crossed for my visa to be approved!

I think you’ve hit it on the head here Matt. America has changed significantly in the last decade, and it’s not only noticed by people who have been overseas. More and more of my friends are thinking of leaving the country – especially with how divided the country has become over politics. Living in Wisconsin (a complete political hotbed right now) makes me feel like a second Civil War isn’t far off. Hell, a Tea Party person just bombed a Planned Parenthood clinic outside of Madison. The country is truly a mess these days.

I haven’t read the book, but this reminds me a bit of the synopsis of Bill Bryson’s book “I’m a Stranger Here Myself”, about moving back to America after living in England for 20 years. http://www.randomhouse.com/features/billbryson/books.html So it seems as though you’re not the only one who thinks there is culture shock when coming back to America.

Cheers!
Andy

NomadicMatt

I’ve read the book. It’s very good. I feel like the country is going to eventually have republican and democratic beer the way things are going.

Matt, thank you for this, it came at a perfect time. I am about to head back to the States after 10 months abroad (not nearly as long as your years away, but still significant, I think!) and am very nervous about adjusting back into the bubble of the U.S. (A perfect word for what it is!) Either because I’ve changed or the country has changed, or both, I think it’s going to be really hard. I’m pretty sure I’ll be planning my next trip abroad almost as soon as I arrive back home. I might have to use your inspiring life as an example!

I feel the same way. The US is so different. My wife was applying for acca one in the US and the other in Chile He got into Chile and now

NomadicMatt

Seems a lot of people are moving to Chile

I think these are great thoughts and transitions to master. Reflections, experiences, and musings that help us see deeper into ourselves and our own desires. We recognize parts of us that we want to dismantle, parts of us where we have experienced growth. Enjoy this awareness, it will be every part of every decision you continue to make in your life.

xoxo

I feel these emotions pretty regularly and although it can seem unsettling to feel trapped and slightly out of place, it’s also reassuring to know that you are a well-traveled person whose mind requires stimulation and culture to be satisfied. That feeling of restlessness makes me get out there and keep my world open and exciting, even when I’m not traveling – visiting museums, trying new food, exploring neighborhoods I’ve never been to, etc.

But of course, part of me still wants to hit the road again!

311Matt

When I arrived in JFK it just all hit me so hard. I remember walking into the bathroom and crying. It was awful. I was uneasy, anxious. Things have changed a bit here but I think when we travel we absorb all the good things we see from other cultures. It’s hard to accept that there’s so many better ways out there to live, than live like this. It’s like all this crap, advertising, people’s opinions are being pumped down our throats. And there’s no where to get away from. There’s no escape. It’s just so fast, but so empty here. I guess it’s just exhausting cutting through all the BS here. I feel you pain.

NomadicMatt

I cried when I was in Cambodia.

I had the same feeling, but for short time :)

Chimene

I think it should be law that all Americans are required to travel twice, outside the boarders of the US. (Canada doesn’t count.) Once to a true third world country and once to another first world country. The US needs perspective.

Melinda

Matt, This is the first time I have read your blog (I’m just getting started on my world wide travels) but even I can connect with this entry. While I haven’t left the states since 2007, I feel that everyday this country moves away from what feels natural to me. Even without leaving the country, I notice the way things have changed dramatically in the last 3 to 4 years. I notice that people are more self-involved. More people care about TV than they do about world events. They only care about politics if it comes up in an argument or debate. Everyone is always in a hurry to make money and spend money, and mostly have forgotten what makes them really happy. That’s part of why I am leaving next month for three weeks in Central America. I am ready to experience the way other cultures and other countries feel right now. And to be honest, I’m afraid it’s going to steal my heart and I will never easily associate with my home country again. I already feel like I don’t fit here, traveling is going to just make it worse. But if that happens, so be it. :)

joel

Matt, following you a bit and yea, America *has* changed in the last few years for the worse. I don’t have cable, but television has become this monster battleground of liberal/conservative BS and the country is divided like never before. I live in a liberal area, but relatives are conservative, talking to them you would think we live in entirely different countries where everything is life or death. Something is drastically changing here and it is not a good thing, not by any means.

Lydia Crostella

I really like your reasons behind producing your site, you have a lot of information to give and your tips offer great advice. I often feel like a stranger returning home after I have been on a holiday too. For me it’s a feeling of missing out on so much when I’ve been away but really nothing much has happened (this may be because I am only away for a month). After reading your site and a few of your blogs I now really want to go travelling and experience the world just as you have.

Colin

Thanks for sharing this Matt! I can only liken this travelling challenge to Platos Cave. I have thought about this have realized that some cultures seem to exist on a scale that seem ultimately more human opposed to the built up ideologies and inherent isolation that the United States offers in many respects. Like you, Thailand and Cambodia are favorites of mine and I have found it difficult to come back after extended trips due to what I think is the compartmentilization that is The USA. Life, death and everything in between permeates the cultural dialogue in these ( and other) lands. Here, these realities are shoved into little boxes and dealt with in a contextual framework that seems to separate humans from the process. I think that maintaining the relationships we have forged there, mine are through Schools and non profits helps with the disconnect. But, having said that, It doent make it any easier when what is an “emergency” here is merely a minor inconvienience there…
Oh yea….Ive cried in Cambodia too…

Matt I have to agree, it is changing here and not for the better. I’m itching to get back out there. I think the biggest problem with the US is that there is no culture.
When you settle, I’m sure you will settle somewhere in Asia. No need to pressure yourself to feel like you belong here, just enjoy your family time when ever you come to the states. That’s all =)

Joy

It’s really amazing what you can learn about your own country while living abroad. I guess before I never gave much thought to IF I like America or where it fits into the world. But I was definitely proud to be an American. After 2 years in China and spending lots of time with non American foreigners I am not proud to be an American anymore – for reasons that are probably obvious. I think you’re right, there is something confining about being back home (I’m also home right now). Maybe because you’re in such a familiar place and spent time here without all the experiences you have now. I changed a lot in China and was really afraid of regressing when I returned home. I like the person I’ve become. So far being home has been amazing but I know soon I’ll be ready to get back out into the world.

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