Culture Shock

Could I move back to the US or would Reverse Culture Shock get the best of me?

Over the last few months since I’ve joined the “unemployment-jobhunt-welcome to the 24% Spain unemployment” world I’ve had numerous people ask me whether I would consider moving back to the US. Every time I get asked that question I subconsciously scrunch up my nose and answer that I’m just not sure. Why not? Welcome to my spanishized mind…

Granted I’m pretty sure it would be much easier with my background and experience to get a good paying job in the US as opposed to the options here, but would the professional side be enough? When I was living in the US I was completely focused on the idea of having a great career, making a lot of money, and storing away for retirement. Now I still think these things are important (and I still complain about the lack of ease to do this here in Spain, just ask my husband…), but there’s definitely been a shift in my thinking. I guess over time I’ve stopped (slightly at least) obsessing over a big salary as the most important thing. I could definitely earn more in the US, but would I be willing to trade off other Spain/EU benefits? 

I can pretty much guarantee a serious case of reverse culture shock if I were to go back to the US (http://www.expatica.com/es/moving-to/Moving-home-Reverse-culture-shock_104957.html), and I know that there’s no way I could go back to Boston with the cold weather… I’m sure, like all things, that over time my reintegration shakeup would fade away and I would get used to being back in the US. And later on it would probably be tough for me to think about moving back to Spain. Right now, though, with the option of Texas as a possibility in the future, I definitely have some doubts about crossing the ocean:

Could I go back to depending on a car for everything? I love being outside, and I love walking/running. One of the things that’s great about Spain, and in general here in Europe, is that people walk everywhere. The thought of having to get in the car for everything (and the hassle of having a baby and buckling in car seats) doesn’t exactly thrill me.

Do I want to go back to eating lunch at my desk? I’ve gotten used to having an actual “lunch break”, meaning eating lunch as a break, outside of the work/desk area. It’s a nice way to get out and get some fresh air (especially needed considering long working hours here) and socialize a bit.

Could I get used to not having little cervecerías and casual restaurants with tapas all over the place? I’ve gotten quite fond over the years of sitting down at a terrace for a caña in the afternoon or dropping into a local bar (or two) to have some tapas or some wine. Do I want to go back to the more formal bar/restaurant scene where sit-down dinners are the norm and a beer does not cost around 1 or 2 euros?

I’ve gotten used to the idea that vacation is for real, not just a number of days that can be used or left behind. And I’ve also gotten used to being able to take 3 weeks at once in the summer and completely disconnecting. Do I want to go back to a corporate culture where vacation time isn’t as valued?

These are just some of my thoughts. On the other hand...I would have a higher salary, more savings and be able to afford to send my child to a US college (hopefully). And I would take advantage of the commercial shopping culture and bargains that I miss over here in Spain, amongst other things. With time I’d reach an inflection point and get back into the American groove. I’m just not sure which way the curve would go after that point. Decisions, decisions…

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2 thoughts on “Could I move back to the US or would Reverse Culture Shock get the best of me?

  1. michelangela di giacomo

    Hay que sumar a todo esto el hecho que ya nos cuesta ir a visitarte a madrid, si te vuelves a EEUU, va a ser basicamente imposible vernos y esto me molestarìa mucho. 🙂 Encima, desde Espana, siempre puedes planear una excapada romantica a italia, mientras desde eeuu esto serìa muchìsimo màs complicado. total: quedate.

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  2. Michelle Post author

    Michi, tienes razón…no he incluido la parte más personal de dejar a los amigos y familiares! Eso sí que sería un poco de shock también, especialmente para el peque no estando cerca de sus primos. Allí puedes coger un avión para un fin de semana pero no llegarás a un sitio con un idioma y una cultura distintos…

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