Reverse Culture Shock

By Joseph Regan | 4/1/16 12:48pm

Do you feel misunderstood, bored or constantly in the company of people who don’t care about your “One time we were in Trafalgar Square and...” stories? If so, you’re experiencing symptoms of a disconcerting affliction: Reverse Culture Shock (RCS). RCS is quite common on college campuses, and it’s especially prevalent among Dartmouth students returning from study abroad terms. If you experiencezero or more of the following four symptoms, youprobably suffer from this troubling condition:

Symptom #1: You feel misunderstood
People don’t ever seem to understand you. (It’s like when KAF employees ask if you want whipped cream or marshmallow in your hot chocolate. Because of course you do; what kind of a question is that?) Your friends just don’t get you anymore,at least not the way your ten-week foreign friends did.

Symptom #2: You are bored
Unlike every European city you toured while away from Dartmouth, Hanover doesn’t have massive buildings, clubs and millions of people. Where are the crowded museums? The traffic jams? The loud music blasting from every street corner? Everything here is just so… plain. You almost miss the huge line you waited in every day to order a croissant at your favorite French bakery. Sure, Baker Tower is fine, but it doesn’t hold a candleto the Eiffel Tower.

Symptom #3: You feel like everything has changed
You’re especially bothered by the fact that everything at Dartmouth is different than how you left it. Your friends have new friends, an unfamiliar fence was put up in front of Collis (shoot, guess you can’t jaywalk anymore) and there’s some weird thing called “housing communities” now. The thought, “Why didn’t everything freeze while I was gone?” often crossesyour mind. You realize that, just like that time in eighth grade when you stayed home sick and the school somehow managed to function without you, Dartmouth is also capable of operating in your absence.

Symptom #4: You think your friends are philistines
Now that you have ventured abroad, you’re having a hard time adjusting to Dartmouth “culture.” Keystone Light is beneath you. You aredisgusted every time you walk by the world-view at Foco. And frat parties are so not as banging as that sketchy hole-in-the-wall in Amsterdam. You tell your friends about your concerns, but they stare at you blankly. They clearly have no appreciation for true culture like you do. You almost feel bad for them; they are mere philistines.

Alas, if you suffer from the above symptoms, you most likely have a case of RCS. And it is time for a reality check.

Joseph Regan