This December I’ll be going home for the first time in 10 years. It’s hard to imagine that it has been that long since I was in my own country; I have these memories of the place, but they seem in a lot of ways like they are from a travel trip, not from somewhere I lived. Over the last decade my entire life has moved to my adopted country and now I feel more Dutch than I do Australian. It’s funny how you never loose the accent though, people tell me I still sound like I just stepped off the plane from Brisbane yesterday. I don’t know if that’s really true, I’ve had to practice speaking English in a way that I can be understood by foreigners, or I should say by people who don’t speak English as a first language, which makes me sound very different from someone just off the plane, so to speak. Right now, I’m the foreigner.
I don’t really keep in contact with people back home, there are a few friends who I do, but these are ones that have spent time overseas and lived amongst another culture like I have. It’s hard to identify with people nowadays that haven’t, they all seem to have such a narrow view of the world, and it’s getting harder and harder to tolerate it the longer I’m away. My relatives are exemplary examples of this, I remember on my last trip back home I was trying to tell my uncle at a family barbeque what the experience was of seeing the Great Pyramids of Cheops. I related to him in grandiose tones the majesty and power of that particular structure and at the end of it he summed it by saying, “but it’s just a big pile of bricks… in a pyramid… right”?! I just didn’t have it in me to say anything, I felt like I was trying to explain how space shuttles fly to a dog. I guess I shouldn’t have judged him too harshly, after all he had never left his home town of Maryborough more than a dozen times, and none of those were out of Australia.
These memories I do have of being back last time were of the strangeness of the place, everything was at once familiar, but at the same time very foreign. Things like watching the TV news and hearing the strange accents the anchors have when they present; listening to a group of kids playing and hearing the way they talk to each other; supermarkets and malls which we just don’t have where I live in my little corner of Amsterdam. I think it’s going to be every bit an experience of culture shock going home as what it was when I first arrived here in Holland.
Mind you, I wonder if it will be that experience of returning home to my roots and discovering that I truly belong somewhere. I’ve heard others speak this way of what it was like when they finally touched ground in their birthplace. I don’t know, perhaps I should start watching some episodes of Neighbours, and Home and Away to prepare myself.
The The culture shock of going home by Mentalechoes, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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