Yes. It is most certainly real.
I remember coming home after spending five weeks in Greece. The first night was fine because I was exhausted from traveling, and my family got me an ice cream cake to celebrate my homecoming. The second day was exciting because I was showing off my many, many photos and telling everyone about my trip. I caught up with friends, went to Dunkin Donuts, and just enjoyed the comfort of home.
At one point during my trip I went to an Irish pub for dinner and had chicken wings, mozzarella sticks, and french fries – all of the unhealthy American food I hadn’t eaten in weeks. It was comforting and a part of me was really looking forward to some home-cooked meals. At this point in time, being home was a relaxing luxury.
It’s day 3 that you have to watch out for. Suddenly the excitement wears down and you realize re-living your trip is not the same as the actual trip. Of course the photographs are great, but they can never truly do the cities justice.
I lay in bed for days, “just relaxing,” and dreaming about the wonderful things I experienced in Greece. I ate these incredible breakfast crepes on Santorini, and they came with fresh squeezed orange juice.
I fantasized about the view over the theater at Delphi.
And I longed to jump into the cool Mediterranean from the beautiful beaches on Milos.
And it finally hit me that I couldn’t step out my front door and walk through the streets of Athens, or eat gyros as I window shop, or enjoy the best mint chocolate chip ice cream I’ve ever had. Suddenly everything in America seemed bland, and I held everything about Greece up on this enchanted pedestal.
The saddest realization was that these new friends I had spent every moment with for 36 days were no longer just down the hall. I couldn’t immediately share funny moments with them or run to someone for fashion advice. Some people I wouldn’t even see once the fall semester began because they attend different universities.
It is very strange to wake up one morning and have your entire life turned upside down. Just because you are back to your original surroundings, everything is different from what you’ve grown accustomed to and there is no easy way to recover from it.
I have since recovered from this phenomenon, reverse culture shock. I’m enjoying my time back in the United States and working tirelessly on my academics and my job. For now, I keep in touch with my friends through a group chat and I share my Greece photos as often as possible. And now I write about my experiences so I can remember the great adventures I took during my time abroad.
What keeps me going is knowing that even though this trip had to end, my next trip is right around the corner. I just have to keep my spirits up until then.
All my best,