A foreign teacher that was substituting at our school today mentioned that he wants to get out of Shanghai and spend time somewhere else in China to experience ‘the real China’. That is a common phrase amongst those in Shanghai who really like to experience culture and different countries – Shanghai is not ‘the real China’. Shanghai is a huge city, with every western luxury imaginable (although sometimes at a hefty price), with residents from all over the world, food from all over the world, and a blend of cultures from all over the world. It isn’t ‘really’ China.’
Then I made a comment which vastly overstated this fact, I said, “Yea, Shanghai is not China. Shanghai is like, well, everywhere else in the world. Shanghai might as well be in America.” Haha… no sooner than saying this did I realize how quickly I had thrown all the unique, fascinating, disgusting and ‘Eastern’ peculiarities of Shanghai out the window.
So, I stopped and admitted that in just over a days time, I would step off the plane and realize how untrue my statement was. I’m going back to Oregon for two weeks, to visit and most importantly to play my role as Maid of Honor in my sister’s wedding. I haven’t been out of the States for too long, it’s only been just over 5 months, but my comment today made me wonder if I would experience a bit of reverse culture shock when I get back to green, clean, friendly, liberal Portland, Oregon.
The last time I was in Asia, in March 2010, I had been away for 4 weeks and definitely viewed the US in a slightly different way when I got back. I had spent my last several days in Cambodia, seeing not only temples and amazing sites but also the absolute poverty and the affects of a genocide that killed nearly a fourth of the population of the country. Coming home from opened my eyes to how well we have it in the US. Yet, a quick trip is also quickly forgotten.
So, will I experience reverse culture shock when I get back to the States in about a day? What will I notice? What will seem different? What will make it feel like a never left? I guess only time will tell…
In the meantime, I need to finish packing!