On Being Home

Q’s perspective of what it’s been like and life after long-term travel.

Since Gerard’s career announcement post, some of you have been asking how things have been going for me so I thought I’d take this time to catch you all up.

Reverse culture shock?

No, not really. Unlike Gerard, I adjusted back into the swing of things pretty easily. Sure, I had a minor case of reverse culture shock like getting in my car and driving for the first time. I took a cold shower my first night home because I forgot the hot/cold knobs are switched. But that was it. By day two, everything was second nature. I was surprised I took it to the remote control rather quickly and remembered all my favorite channels. I watched more television that first week home than all of last year combined. Venturing into the closet wasn’t hard. I was eager to wear anything but a yellow-stained white t-shirt. I drove to my favorite restaurants, ate all my favorite foods. I caught up with family and friends. My nieces and nephews didn’t seem to notice I was gone or, didn’t seem to care much.

I have changed.

It’s like someone hit the pause button back home. I was able to pick up right where I left off, not much has changed. But I have changed. Or at least I see things a little differently now. I would hope that after a year of travel, it has had some affect on me, one way or another. And while I don’t wash my butt with my bare hands after using the toilet, the idea of it doesn’t gross me out as much as you’d think – I’ve been to India. I do, however, use less toilet paper, drink from the tap and take 2-minute showers. It’s the little things. I don’t feel like I’m a different person, just grown a lot I guess. I’ve mellowed out. I feel like I have a better sense of who I am, and more importantly, the person I want to be. My perspective on life is shaped from my experiences and last year has no doubt brought enough experiences to last a lifetime.

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Another change? I came home with an accent. Sort of. It comes and go. Now I totally understand what Madonna went through when she moved to the UK briefly and came back with a wonky English accent. Gerard calls me out on it all the time. How I start or end my sentences with the lazy hey or yeah, I no longer say yes. How I say heaps instead of a lot, uni instead of college, queue instead of line. It’s kind of funny and slightly annoying, I know. I’m working on it.

On being travel experts.

Somewhere between coming home and staying home, we became instant travel agents. It’s weird to get emails and Facebook messages from friends, family and total strangers asking us for travel advice. It could be the simplest of questions like where to book airline tickets or visa requirements and immunization and that’s fine, I know a thing or two about that. But funny enough, on the questions I don’t know (more than you think), I do a quick internet search before responding to you so technically, not really travel experts, just good on Google search I guess. :)

Don’t get me wrong, I love talking about travel – sharing our experiences, tips and suggestions and all – but it’s just weird to me when it comes to giving travel advice because I never want to have too much influence on a person’s travel decision. I’ll share, but you’ll notice I also try and be vague and non-partial to my suggestions. I never want to be the reason why you did or didn’t go somewhere, do something in case you have regrets or a bad experience. But I get it too – it’s comforting to hear someone else’s perspective which is why I’m always up for a travel convo, but just know that it’s still weird for me to be slapped with that travel expert label.

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The job search continues..

I honestly had no fears returning home and finding a job. I actually thought that part would be easy. Boy was I naïve. Things were going well at first. I submitted a few resumes, networked with some old colleagues and managed to connect with some prospective companies and got interviews lined up. All that in the first two weeks of being home, so it wasn’t that silly of me to think I’d land a job shortly after.

My interviews went great and the team liked me. Every sign said I got this in the bag. I followed up with the employer and was told they were finalizing things but that I shouldn’t worry. I followed up by email on weeks two and three and was told I’d be the first to know once a decision has been made. I didn’t bother looking for another job. By week four, I was starting to lose hope. I called this time and ask point blank if they’ve already filled the position and was surprised to find the position is still open, but that things are tied up and it’s not exactly a priority at this time. It could be politics, could be budget (could be me), but for whatever reason, I didn’t get the job.

I was pretty down after that whole ordeal. I had this hope that I’d be employed by my birthday in January, a month after we came home. Yea, that didn’t happen. February flew by without so much as an email or call. It wasn’t until mid-March did I begin getting calls from recruiters and hiring managers. I’ve spoken to several representatives from multiple companies, went on two more interviews and now the waiting game begins again.

Thank you.

I really can’t say this enough. Thank you all so much for your messages and comments on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the blog and also your kind emails. It has really helped me get through this awkward phase of transitioning back into the ‘real world’. I love sharing our story and reliving our year of travel with y’all. Being home is great but it also kind of sucks too. I wouldn’t mind being anywhere else but here right now. I’d rather be unemployed on a beach in Thailand than a couch potato at home watching late night tv waiting for the phone to ring.

That’s the update on me, Kieu.

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52 Responses to On Being Home

  1. Caro_PassportandaToothbrush April 8, 2013 at 9:10 am #

    Oh girl, I hear ya. We just came back to Canada, barely 48 hours ago and I’m curious to see how it goes. I teared up and my heart was beating fast when the plane landed: it’s official. But the hardest pause has to be what you mentioned; to come back and to see nothing has changed. That really bothers me. As if I went back in time, as if the trip never really happened. We’ll see with time how it goes.

    • Kieu - GQ trippin April 8, 2013 at 9:26 am #

      You guys are back already?!! Doesn’t it feel like only yesterday when you packed up and left? Gahh, such a weird feeling still and I’ve been home for 4 months! Hang in there you guys and welcome home!

  2. Ana Silva O'Reilly April 8, 2013 at 9:21 am #

    K, I loved this :) it is great to see how positive you were about the impacts on your personality. As for the job, hang in there, things changed a bit while you were gone – it may just take longer than you expected – or this job was totally wrong for you! Be positive and great things will happen!

    • Kieu - GQ trippin April 9, 2013 at 9:07 am #

      Thanks, Ana! Definitely believe the right job is around the corner. Fingers crossed..

  3. Savor Oakland April 8, 2013 at 9:39 am #

    Feel you on the job search when I (Carlo) got back. Things just fall into place when you hang in there :)

  4. Lu April 8, 2013 at 9:42 am #

    This is like looking at my life in the mirror. I’ve been back from my RTW trip for about a month and a half and I am experiencing about the same, maybe is a post travel patern? Good luck with those awaiting phone calls, I hope to land something quick too, It’s not like you have money to spare after such a long trip hey? It gets kind of odd not been much after doing so much for a year!

    • Kieu - GQ trippin April 9, 2013 at 9:10 am #

      I’m starting to think it’s the norm for life after long-term travel, lol. Yea, I definitely don’t have money lying around to pass time, that’s for sure. Hehe.. good luck to you!

  5. purplekat99 April 8, 2013 at 10:52 am #

    Ohmigod, can so relate to coming back and starting off high and then dropping low really fast. I came back in 2009, middle of worst recession EVER and my first month, had one interview a week, thinking, this isn’t going to be so bad! And then I had 3 months of nothing. Talk about a roller coaster! Good luck! Bay Area is hopping right now, so it shouldn’t be too long.

    • Kieu - GQ trippin April 9, 2013 at 9:11 am #

      Yea I am glad to be in an area where there’s options so fingers crossed for sure. :)

  6. JacknJillTravel April 8, 2013 at 11:02 am #

    Hang in there… new opportunities will come around. Keep the positive attitude and plan small trips around the travel spirits going :)

    • Kieu - GQ trippin April 9, 2013 at 9:12 am #

      I look forward to weekend getaways and am so glad we’re a stone throw away from the city and wine country. I definitely need a drink (or two) after this whole ordeal. Haha

  7. Tony K + Steph H April 8, 2013 at 7:22 pm #

    Thank you for writing such an honest post about your return home… Honestly, I think it’s the thing I worry about most as at this point, it’s the thing I have no idea how to anticipate.

    It is really weird when you feel like you have seen and done so much, had all these amazing experiences and your life is bigger now, only to return to the place where you started and feel like it’s a movie you paused for a year and now need to pick up again. It sounds like you’re doing the right thing though, just being patient and taking your time, and eventually your old normal will become your new normal again!

    • Kieu - GQ trippin April 9, 2013 at 9:14 am #

      Yea there’s not much else I can do but wait.. patiently. I know things will fall in it’s place so it helps to look forward to the next day. That phone will ring.. :)

  8. Melissa April 8, 2013 at 11:55 pm #

    I can relate on the accent/language usage thing. I came back from 10 days in Ireland saying things like “car park” instead of parking lot, “motorway” instead of highway, and “lift” instead of elevator. After 3 weeks in South Korea I’ve inadvertently been “Koreanizing” some words. Like “cute-uh”, “nice-uh” and “finish-ee”. I’m sure I’ll drop that quickly once back in N.America. A week in Texas left me with lazy drawl for a few days as well. Guess I acclimate well.

    • Kieu - GQ trippin April 9, 2013 at 9:16 am #

      I kind of like the new words I picked up. Makes our language sound so boring otherwise. Hahaha.. but I do think it will phase out over time which is fine too. :D

      • Liz April 18, 2013 at 4:24 am #

        This is interesting to hear what Americans/Canadians think about Australian or British words. I am from Sydney and will be visiting Hawaii and Vancouver in early June just for 2 weeks, so will see how it goes. I spoke London-ish and English-y after living there for 2 years.
        Good luck with your job hunt – you are very motivated. I was happy to veg for 3 mths before job hunting. I totally would have watched the amount of tv you did after a year of limited or no tv – and with absolute no guilt! Lazy Liz x

  9. Anita Mac April 9, 2013 at 8:16 am #

    I can relate to just about everything you said about your re-introduction to home, with the exception of the tv! Had that disconnected and told myself no tv until I got myself back on track! I think it always takes longer than expected to land that job when you first get back from a RTW trip. I have quit and started again a few times and the one lesson I learned…bank on that time gap! Make sure you can hold out for the right job, not just any job.
    Love that you picked up the lingo – have been back from living in Australia for years now and to be honest, no longer remember which words are Canadian, and which are Australian!

    • Kieu - GQ trippin April 9, 2013 at 9:18 am #

      I am glued to the television, it’s not exactly my highest point. I definitely banked on some gap, but honestly didn’t think it would take this long.. unfortunately. But I’m sure it will be worth the wait in the end. I love the Aussie lingo.. think I’ll keep it. Lol

  10. Edna April 9, 2013 at 11:23 am #

    Man, nothing wrong with saying flat, or ending sentences with yeah, or saying d’accord or ‘can lah’ — I think of my speech changes as little souvenirs I take from each country I’ve lived in :) Good luck with the job search!

    • Kieu - GQ trippin April 9, 2013 at 12:02 pm #

      Haha, always like your glass half full comments. I quite like my quirky little accents so I think I might keep it – for souvenir purpose like you said. :) What the heck is a ‘can lah’? Talking to you in person should be fun. Lol

      • Edna April 9, 2013 at 12:10 pm #

        In Singapore it’s how they respond in the affirmative. Like, “Want to go to the bar?” “Can lah.”

  11. The World Wanderer April 9, 2013 at 12:37 pm #

    I totally have the problem with saying things they say in other countries. It’s always worse right when I come home, and was at all time high after spending three weeks with Australians in Africa. I was a mess. But, yes, I love the change that happens with travel and the overall appreciation for what we once took for granted. Good luck with the job search and I cannot wait to hear what’s next! ;)

  12. Rika at Cubicle Throwdown April 9, 2013 at 7:13 pm #

    I pick up on accents and words so easily too from everywhere I go! Having lived in the Caribbean for almost a year now, every time I skype my family and friends they call me on the way I talk!

    • Kieu - GQ trippin April 10, 2013 at 7:46 pm #

      My family hasn’t quite called me out on it but I’m sure they noticed. Lol

  13. Eytan Levy April 9, 2013 at 8:58 pm #

    Some people expect a tectonic shift, but sometimes it’s just a few little things that are different. Not everyone needs to have a life-changing experience, particularly if their outlook on life was good enough to begin with.

  14. BeyondBlighty April 10, 2013 at 4:39 am #

    My accent has changed a lot too. I always pick up the Aussie accent so quickly it looks like I’m making fun of people. I’ve even convinced Aussies I’m Aussie – and I was travelling in South America! I’m moving to Sydney in a couple of months, so we shall see if they accept me as one of their own thanks to my uncanny morphing ability :)

  15. Leah Travels April 10, 2013 at 4:35 pm #

    It’s difficult to get a job at the beginning of the year and sometimes even the first quarter. I know someone will see the greatness I see in you and snap you up in a minute. It’ll come soon enough.

  16. Sauy April 10, 2013 at 11:27 pm #

    Kieu- keep the accent! It’s like an internal souvenir :) haha. Everyone laughs when I say petrol or mobile, but no one understood me overseas if I said “gas” or “cell.” You guys really amaze me with how much energy and creativity you have in putting this site together… and keeping it up! I barely just wrote an email out today for my first week in PNG a year ago! Bahhh… lol :) I wish I had the patience and dedication you guys did/do!

    • Kieu - GQ trippin April 12, 2013 at 10:38 am #

      Hahaha.. I think I might – I quite like it actually. Oh, I’ve caught myself saying petrol too! :P

  17. Traveling Ted April 11, 2013 at 4:25 am #

    Companies really drag their feet hiring people these days even if they have an open position and need it filled. I had the same thing happen to me. I interviewed for a position and they said they would get back to me on around Memorial Day. I never heard from them. No one did as they never filled the position.

    When I traveled 3 months in Asia I picked up some kind of accent too. Since there are so few Americans traveling you only speak with Brits, Aussies, and Canadians. I met some Americans and I asked where they were from and they said “New Jersey, have you heard of it?” They thought I was British.

    • Kieu - GQ trippin April 12, 2013 at 10:40 am #

      Yea it sucks when you have no control. I’m hanging in there. I’d LOVE to be confused for a British accent. Sadly mine is terrible. lol

  18. The World of Deej April 11, 2013 at 6:23 am #

    Sounds like the adjusting has gone pretty well, aside from the job part. Keep grinding, it will happen and in the end will be worth the wait. Easy to say on the other side of the keyboard, I know, but it’s all I got:)

    And I’m with you on the travel advice thing. I get emails from friends and family just about every week and it is rarely about places I’ve actually been. So I too hit the Google search or draw on memories of fellow blogger posts, and come out looking like the expert:)

    • Kieu - GQ trippin April 12, 2013 at 10:41 am #

      I feel like I do more research for others than giving actual advice. I’m a wiz on Google search. Haha.

  19. Lauren DiMarco April 11, 2013 at 8:12 am #

    adjusting is always so difficult! when i toured europe for a month it was amazing, but coming back to real life can be so… boring especially at first. Its great that you have adjusted and with time you’ll find the right

    • Kieu - GQ trippin April 12, 2013 at 10:42 am #

      I do miss life on the road but being home isn’t too bad either. I missed my family and friends which made it easier to transition back. But yea, the no job thing really sucks.. :P

  20. Sophie's World April 12, 2013 at 7:53 am #

    Odd, isn’t it – how things at home seem not to have moved at all when one is gone for a long time – a little Twilight Zone-y, that. Best of luck with the job hunt.

    • Kieu - GQ trippin April 12, 2013 at 10:43 am #

      Thanks! It’s definitely Twilight Zone-y, weird and familiar at the same time.

  21. Raul (@ilivetotravel) April 12, 2013 at 4:20 pm #

    Oh, the joys of job hunting! The thing is, even if it takes longer, what you have just completed will be the stuff you will remember the rest of your life – and not this job search! Welcome back, Q!

  22. Chris & Tawny April 13, 2013 at 5:05 pm #

    I always go through a little post-trip depression. It’s good to see that you’ve been able to cool down a little bit and I’m sure you’re going to have the perfect job in no time! We can’t wait to see how things pan out of you and G. I think your next trip should be to Seattle ;)

    • Kieu - GQ trippin April 19, 2013 at 10:47 am #

      Haha.. I’d love to go back to Seattle but maybe we’ll meet you in Toronto?? ;)

  23. Andrea and John April 15, 2013 at 8:32 am #

    I might be in this same boat soon…good luck with the job search!!

  24. Anita April 15, 2013 at 2:23 pm #

    Great post! I guess I would never bee that “brave” to just quit my job to go travelling. I guess i would be more the “sabbatical-type”. So I wish you all the best for finding a new job

    • Kieu - GQ trippin April 19, 2013 at 10:50 am #

      It would have been much easier to have a year-long sabbatical. LOL..

  25. Lazy Travelers April 17, 2013 at 9:01 am #

    i can totally relate to this, having moved abroad twice in the past six years. coming home is easier and harder than you imagine, all at once. its comforting and familiar, and yet a complete sensory overload. xo! the wino

  26. Tara September 9, 2013 at 9:06 am #

    This was good to reread now that we’re back. I feel like I’ve mellowed out a lot too. Things are so fast-paced around me but I’m the only one nearly standing still. I really like the feeling of being slowed down. It’s mostly strange to be back, unemployed, in the city that I used to live in as a young professional. You see if from a different light.

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