People who spent a long time out of their country, what was your biggest surprise when you came back?

Jocular answer:

When I was spending three years in the wilds of Orange County, US, I was hankering for the culinary variety of Old Melbourne Town. I kept telling anyone who would listen (and that wasn’t many) about how when I’d go back, eat at my favourite Malay-Chinese restaurant on Lygon St, and swim on a sea of latte.

When I got back after three years, I headed straight to the now sadly defunct Nyonya’s, had a satifsying noodle dish, and topped it off with my then favourite dessert of lychees and vanilla ice cream.

My biggest surprise when I came back: how god-awful Australian ice cream is.

(2001, it’s gotten better since.)

Somewhat more serious answer:

After six months in Greece: how standoffish and undemonstrative Australians are. I was actually surprised my thesis supervisor didn’t hug me to welcome me back.

More generally: reverse culture shock. It makes sense that the foreign culture is exotic. It doesn’t make sense when you’re alienated from your home culture.

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