North America has been my home for 21 years. I was proud to be a citizen and felt I belonged. But lately, it doesn’t feel like the same country where I placed my right hand on my chest and pledged allegiance to the flag.
Growing up in England, for most of my childhood I was told I didn’t belong and that I should go back to my own country. But England was my country. I thought America would be more accepting because it embraces differences. Indeed it was, and I fell in love with this land of the free and brought up my children here.
However, like many expats, I am now feeling lost and in limbo, as though the ground has been taken from underneath my feet. I am a newcomer again, trying to navigate my way through unfamiliar territory to determine how safe it is and how people will perceive me. I am neither here nor there.
Many of us, not just expats, are experiencing these symptoms of “Culture Shock,” a term coined by the anthropologist Kalvero Oberg to describe the feelings of disorientation and uncertainty that might arise when people are thrown unprepared into an alien culture.
At first, there may be excitement or anticipation (as we had before the election). Then there can be feelings of grief such as shock and numbness, followed by anger, fear, and even depression. There can be homesickness too, with a yearning to return to the way things were.
Gradually, there is an acceptance of reality, that things will never be the same again. That’s where I am now. How about you? Does any of this resonate with you?
I would love to hear from you. Just remember, these posts are moderated and comments need to be kept respectful and free from profanity.
Kiran Prasad has relocated 29 times and is the author of A Mindful Move: Feel at home again.