Reverse Culture Shock: Thailand to America

Hi everyone!!

If you’re reading this, I first want to say THANK YOU for bearing with me these last couple of months.  I know I’ve been lagging a bit on the blog posts, but travelwithtarah is back and with plenty of material to last for months.  I spent the month of April exploring Siem Reap, receiving my scuba certification in Koh Tao, getting soaked for Songkran in Chiang Mai, and falling in love with the Philippines…needless to say, I’ve got a lot to say and so much to tell you about!  I really have no excuse for the month of May other than I’ve been trying to soak up every minute I have with my family before leaving the country again (can’t apologize for that one, sorry friends).

Which actually brings me to my next point:

I am moving to France for the summer!  I am going to be working in a beautiful hotel and trying to learn as much as I can about the hospitality industry and, of course, the French culture.  This is an incredible opportunity and I cannot wait for this adventure.

Before I leave though, I think it’s time to tell ya’ll just how WEIRD it is to be back in America!  Don’t get me wrong, it’s been an amazing few weeks catching up with family and friends, but it has also shown me the definition of reverse culture shock.  There are so many little things that keep happening where I get confused and have to remind myself, “oh yeah…you’re in America”.

Here are 25 of the weirdest things that have happened to me since being home:

  1. Driving on the right side of the road: Since I’ve spent the last seven months driving my motor bike on the left side of the road, it was a little confusing to start driving on the right side of the road again.
  2. Driving in general: Stay off the roads people. I’ve never been a very good driver to begin with so now that I’ve been out of the game for a while, I’d steer clear.
  3. I no longer have to throw toilet paper in the trash can: The plumbing in Southeast Asia isn’t great so you are not supposed to throw toilet paper in the toilet, but in the trashcan. I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve thrown my toilet paper in the trashcan since I’ve gotten home…kinda gross now if you think about it.
  4. No more 7-Eleven’s on every corner: In Thailand, 7-Eleven’s are like Starbucks. There is literally one every 20 feet.
  5. Come to think of it, I can no longer go to 7-Eleven for my every need: Word on the street is 7-Eleven’s in America don’t sell phone plans, train tickets, or plane tickets. Who knew?
  6. No more $9 phone plans: Luckily, I’m still on my parent’s phone plan, but I’m positive it costs a whole lot more than $9 per month. Thanks mom!!
  7. KEURIG!!!!: Southeast Asia doesn’t believe in real coffee, only instant coffee. So imagine my delight to come home to a real cup of coffee in the matter of seconds via the beautiful thing that is a Keurig.
  8. Waiing is not a thing: In Thailand, you Wai people when saying hello, goodbye, thank you, or really anything. Evidently, it’s weird to Wai people in America.
  9. Meals no longer cost a maximum of $2: I paid $40 for brunch the other day…thought about crying. RIP my bank account
  10. Champagne is absolutely a thing: Finding Champagne in Thailand is like finding a $2 meal in America…it just doesn’t happen. Mimosas, it’s nice to have you back.
  11. Apparently new songs came out in the last seven months…who knew?: I’m cheap and decided not to pay for the upgraded version of Spotify and the free version doesn’t work in Thailand so I actually hadn’t heard a new song in 7 months. Turned on the radio on my car ride home from the airport and had absolutely no idea what was playing.
  12. My bed is no longer rock hard: I became accustomed to my rock hard bed in Thailand, so when I first laid down on my bed at home, it was like sleeping on a cloud.
  13. I no longer have to play charades to talk to anyone in my town: This one is pretty obvious, but it’s nice to be surrounded by fellow English speakers. Charades is fun though.
  14. I can no longer spend $45 to fly around the country: I once bought a one-way ticket to Bangkok for $45…I currently have to spend nearly $200 for a one way ticket almost anywhere in America.
  15. Actually, I can no longer spend $100 to fly to a different country: I kid you not, I bought a round trip ticket to Singapore and back to Thailand for $90. Not even going to tell you how much a round trip ticket to another country would be from America.
  16. I can no longer buy a flight at a sketchy hole in the wall store: There are so many little tourism stores throughout Thailand that you can walk in and buy any sort of transportation to pretty much anywhere in Southeast Asia. That’s definitely not a thing in America sadly.
  17. I no longer eat rice for every meal of the day: People in America don’t eat rice for breakfast, lunch, and dinner…what a concept!

    First meal back in America…praise the Lord for In N Out
  18. FULL ACCESS TO NETFLIX!!: Came home, turned on Netflix, and found a whole new world. So. Many. Shows.
  19. White people everywhere!!!: In my little town, it was always shocking to see another white person besides the few of us that were teaching and now they’re everywhere!  Miss my little Thai friends tbh
  20. 5 lane freeways…scary: There were no more than two lanes in the little town that I lived in so driving with five lanes is honestly scary.
  21. No longer see a full family of five on one tiny motorbike: On any given day in Thailand, you will see a mom, dad, newborn baby, and two other little tikes on one little motorbike. Maybe a little unsafe?
  22. Actually, no more motorbikes at all: I could go days in America without seeing a person riding a motorbike, but couldn’t go two feet in Thailand without seeing 20.
  23. People apparently think 75 degrees is hot:  My students would show up in beanies and sweaters in 75 degree weather which, in turn, made me start to believe it was cold, as well.  My family now thinks I’m crazy when I walk outside in a sweatshirt in 75-degree weather.
  24. Breakfast!!!: Breakfast in Thailand consists of rice and fried chicken for the most part. Not complaining, but I am happy to have breakfast burritos and bagels back in my life.

    Nothing says breakfast like a bagel
  25. Last, but not definitely not least, my fam lives two feet from my door!!!: Going from having to schedule FaceTime calls due to a 15-hour time difference, it’s a little weird (and a lot great) to be living two feet from the people I love most and down the street from another (hi dad! not pictured below but love ya nonetheless)

    Talk about the best homecoming I could ever ask for. May have shed a couple of tears

While it’s taken me a little while to get used to things in America, there is a definite sense of comfort in being home.  California will always be home, but I’m looking forward to getting back to traveling the world.  Stay tuned for travel guides and travel tips from my previous travels and for what’s to come!

What are some things that have been different for you when returning to America or your home country?  Did you find it a little weird at first? Let me know in the comments below!


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39 thoughts on “Reverse Culture Shock: Thailand to America

  1. Ah I can totally related. I lived in Thailand for 6 months in 2012 and totally went through all of this stuff when I moved back home to Canada! Drove on the wrong side of the road a couple times on my street, whoops!

    1. Haha it is such a weird adjustment! Don’t worry, I’ve done that a couple of times myself haha

  2. HAHA I experienced the same exact thing when I came back from Southeast Asia!!! What a shock.. p.s. you get major brownie points for the In N Out pic! #westcoastgal

  3. This had me smiling! I was just in Thailand this past December, visiting friends who have moved there. Even with my relatively short 3 weeks stay, I understand so many points here. And when my friends come back and visit me, their only meal request is “Anything but rise.” 😀

    1. I’m so glad it made you smile! No matter how short the stay, it is always weird to return home back to “normal”!

  4. You will never know how nice it is to have you in the same house again….even if it is for a few short weeks. I love you so much honey1❤️

  5. What a fun list to read! Thats funny about the rice for every meal thing. When I moved to Hawaii, I was shocked to see rice (and spam) served at McDonalds! It’s definitely always an adjustment either coming to going from a different culture!

    1. Haha for me it was seeing rice served at KFC in Thailand!! (KFC is their main fast food restaurant over in Thailand!)

  6. It’s funny the things you miss! I spent 3 months in Asia a few years ago then went on to Australia and it was like a little piece of home and normality after the craziness!

    P.s. your mum is so cute!

    1. Oh my gosh I’ve always wanted to go to Australia!! I’m sure that was a nice change of pace to finally have some english speakers and american food around you! And thank you, she is the best!

  7. LOL Great article and so so relateble. Yeah I missed the 7/11 and cheap meals too…but a comfy bed and acces to netflix arent bad too 😉

    p.s. How cool was Siem Reap? I loved that cute little town!

    1. Ugh missing 7/11 right about now!! But Netflix is definitely making up for it haha and I absolutely loved Siem Reap! SO cute

  8. Speaking of rice, it is something I miss about home. We Filipino’s eat rice every meal, now that I live abroad I consider myself lucky if I can have rice once a day. Hahaha. I hope you had a great time in the Philippines. Can’t wait to read you stories about my country. 🙂

  9. People don’t think much about the opposite evil from culture shock. I had a similar experience moving back from Australia but not nearly as intense since they are more culturally similar. Keeps things interesting!

    1. I’m sure there were still some major adjustments when you got back!! I would love to make it to Australia one day!

    1. Oh I bet you experienced a lot of similar things upon your return! Haha yes the rice for breakfast definitely took a little getting used to!

  10. It’s funny to think about the changes one experiences returning home. I laughed at the part about the 7-11s. When I returned home from Japan, I felt the same way about missing LAWSON stores. But having Champagne and Keurig back can only be good things.

  11. Haha! I’ve heard that from my neighbour, When she moved from Japan to India, she found everything so cheap and now, whenever she travels to Japan now, she finds everything so costly! So beautiful read all your experiences!

    1. Oh I have heard that about Japan, as well! I would love to visit one day to find out for myself. Glad you enjoyed the post 🙂

  12. I love the difference you showed coming BACK to America! I knew things were different but wasn’t sure exactly WHAT was different. Ha, I can’t imagine going all that time without Champagne. Literally my life. I am sure its a whirlwind of emotion how different cultures and simple practices such as driving or brunch can be totally incomparable!! Love it.

  13. Reading this was a little funny for me. I could relate to some bits and yet, felt silly for having done the same. Good luck with your new move. Am sure you will find some newer experiences that will remind you of these good old days.

  14. Completely enjoyed reading this post. Home Country can give a cultural shock too when you are away for a long time 🙂 It did happen with us when we were back to India from Switzerland but we were mentally prepared for it as we had already started missing everything about things back home. You dont need to call your family to talk anymore and Five lanes can be scary too! lol

  15. Thailand and USA are two extremely different nations in every aspect; so the culture shock is quite genuine. I loved the honesty in your post. Wish you many more travels ahead

  16. Reverse culture shock is so real, if you’ve been away for a longer duration, but for me it works even after I come back after a 4 day mini=break. You’re right, home ground and comfort go hand in hand. There are so many things we are used to, and it feels good to get back.

    1. It happens after mini vacations for me, as well! Always nice to have the comfort of your own home again

  17. such a cool Places, The images are very beautiful and eye catching. I hope i would travel this place once a day and turn my visuals into reality

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