I recently went home for holidays after two and a half years of living abroad. I still recall how I was dreading and yet looking forward to going back to my home country. I wondered what I would be finding there: my good old habits or would Mauritius be too foreign for me? Blame it on the numerous anecdotes on reversal culture shock that fellow immigrants had recounted to me. On top of constantly fearing that my homesickness had led me to romanticize my country.
Still, once I landed my excitement of being in my homeland again completely overshadowed my apprehensiveness. Here I was gawking at the beauty that I left behind to conquer the Great White North. The first couple days went by with me being in awe of Mauritius. I was singing the praises of my motherland to whoever was listening. My cousin kept telling me how I had a smile glued to my face while others exasperated ended up kindly requesting that I knock it off.
Feeling Out Of Touch
My idolization eventually gave way to cognizance. I was shocked and confused to realize how out of touch I was with people, places, and life in the country that saw me grow up. It was with profound sadness that I learned of the death of some people, I was excited to get to know my friend’s kids, and was happy to hear that some acquaintances were married. I was also grappling with my country’s customs. I tried to hide my uneasiness when shop assistants looked at me quizzically when I stressed that I was paying with my debit card. My handshake with my husband’s friend was met with her puzzled face (I had forgotten that kissing was the norm for greeting). Moreover, I had also offended a couple of people when I left a party by waving goodbye instead of kissing each one of them goodbye.
Sinking Back In The Old Life
Yet, I was surprised to find out how easy it was to sink back into my old life. Within a few days, my life in Canada seemed slightly surreal. I felt like my life over there was like living on a completely different planet and as result, I had split myself into two people. Half of my identity belonged to Mauritius and I revived this person when I visited; the person I was before I left…It occurred to me that Canada had transformed me into this overly polite, distant, individualistic and always in a hurry. Here I was back to speaking my mind, taking my time, and taping in my sense of community.
The Vicious Circle Of Comparison
Next thing I know, I was comparing both countries. My neighbor’s unsolicited comment about my weight gain was quickly rebuffed with “I never asked you your opinion in the first place. In Canada, people would never dare to say such thing”. Street harassment kept reminding how in Canada I can walk peacefully without some dude incessantly honking me. I also found myself remarking that Mauritians are more easy-going and know how to enjoy life compared to Canada. It seemed to me that people in Canada are pretty uptight and always in a stress.
Meaning Of Home
After my visit home, I was left with a question: do I want to return to Canada or do I want to stay in Mauritius? Visiting my native country evoked nostalgia and made me rethink the definition of “home”. I have the best of both world: adventures in a different part of the world and the promise that my country will always be there and I can always go back. But which one can claim me more? Is my home in Mauritius or in Canada? How about you? How was your first trip back home? Did you ever feel like giving up on your life abroad? Did you experience reversal culture shock?