Conquering reverse culture shock

It’s funny how home looks exactly the same, yet completely different after you’ve been away. I remember my jaw dropping as my cheese pretzel in the O’Hare airport rang up for $4.75, and how I thought American parking lots seemed to stretch on for miles. On a grander scale, you might feel alienated from those around you.

It’s tricky to pick up friendships after they fizzle while you’re overseas, or for people to sigh a little when you start yet another conversation with “And this one time in Germany…” It’s normal to feel alienated or stuck, if after a long period of changes and experiences you come back to find your old life the same as it was when you left.

“Things might be different, people (including yourself) might have changed, but this doesn’t mean a repat should give up character and interest learned from abroad just to fit in,” says an article on repatriation from I agree. Be flexible, just as you were when you first went overseas, but don’t forget how far you’ve come.

Why doesn’t The Philippines get more empathy from America?

To be honest, I haven’t thought about The Philippines much more than you have. Maybe it’s because it seems the world has been so flooded with natural disasters in the past few years that this just seems like one more. Maybe it’s just too far on the other side of the globe to let it truly hit home. But one in three Filipinos lives in America, and the death count from the typhoon is nearing 4,000. The LA Times reports only 14 percent of Americans have donated, with 17 percent planning to donate. With so many expat Filipinos in America, it seems like this statistic should be much higher.

If you missed Thankful Tuesday this year, consider donating to The Philippines.

Favorite airports to be stuck

Whether the culprit is fierce winter storms, repairs on your aircraft or a bad travel agent, you can find yourself in an airport for longer than planned. But if you’re staying in one of these airports listed by NPR, you might not feel stranded at all.

The airport in San Francisco has a yoga studio, Brussels’ has the world’s largest chocolate shop, and Singapore has a butterfly garden. Yes, you read that correctly- besides free massages and a Balinese-themed pool (I don’t know what this is, but it sounds cool) the airport has a butterfly garden with 1,000 butterflies.

If your layover is long enough, I would suggest venturing outside to explore the city. But if your airport is as awesome as these, you may not want to leave.

Black Fridays abroad: Same sales by a different name

If you’re pining for the long lines and cheap deals of Black Friday while you’re overseas, fear not. CNN recently posted an article listing several international shopping days.

Japan, South Korea and Taiwan celebrate “White Day” a month after Valentine’s Day. While women do the gift-giving on February 14, men are expected to do the same in March. India has “Friendship Day,” Australia has “Click Frenzy.”  If you’re on your own, consider moving to China, where they celebrate Single’s Day by eating going out for black noodles. And if you’re bemoaning that rampant consumerism is spreading beyond America, there’s always the alternative Black Friday: International Buy Nothing Day. Since my wallet’s a bit thin this year, I’ll surely be celebrating this year.

Thanksgiving seen through foreign eyes

When he invited ex-pats from a bundle of countries to his house for an Australian-style- Thanksgiving, Mark Johanson knew he would get to tell the story of the feast. He may not have guessed that his friends already had their own ideas of what the holiday meant- they just didn’t line up with his. One friend based her perception off an episode of “The Addams Family,” in which a character goes off-script in a Thanksgiving play and instructs the Native Americans to scalp the Pilgrims. Another thought the holiday celebrated our victory over the Native Americans.

Thanksgiving is a chance for you to be an ambassador as they represent a true American holiday. But it’s also a chance to create new traditions. With the annual rites of watching football, Black Friday shopping, or even chowing down on turkey no longer available, we have the chance to create our own version of the holiday. Check out Mark’s post, and wherever and however you may be celebrating, have a happy Thanksgiving.

Tricks to interviewing in a foreign language

A friend of mine living with her husband in Japan posted the following Facebook status update yesterday:

“Interview on Sunday! Yay! But… it’s going to be conducted in… Japanese… oh… :(”

The big problem you may have guessed is that she barely speaks any Japanese. Luckily there will be a translator available, but the interview is meant to gauge her knowledge of the language. I jokingly suggested she memorize a few canned responses, but it might not actually be a bad idea with her time frame. Other hints I found from are to contact a local professor, and memorize job-specific lingo.

If you have more tips, feel free to share!


There’s nothing like a holiday to kick in the nostalgia and make you realize just how far from home you are. But don’t spend all day in your dorm room scrolling through your news feed to find pictures of your aunt’s famous sweet potato pie. You’re not missing out on the holiday so much as gaining an opportunity to make it your own. Gather your friends together to make a feast with local foods, or find a nice restaurant to try for the first time. Garner more ideas from