From the US State Department’s guide to reverse culture shock:
Myths & Misconceptions About the United States
Many people [i.e. Americans returning home after a long sojourn abroad] have misconceptions concerning life in the United States. Some of these myths include:
- Everything works better back home.
- People are more efficient.
- Everything is clean.
- Things are basically the same as when I left.
- Personal relationships can be resumed easily.
- I can cope easily in my own culture.
New Attitudes & Values of Sojourners
Americans often develop new attitudes, values and perceptions as a result of their travels. These can often cause stress on reentry.
- I see America through a sharper lens, both its strengths and weaknesses. I no longer take this country for granted and I really resent unbalanced criticism by Americans who haven’t experienced the rest of the world.
- I see the validity of at least one other culture. That makes me realize that the American way is not always “right” or “best.” I am impatient with people who criticize other countries and blindly accept everything American causing them to never question anything.
- I have an unclear concept of home now.
- I place more value on relationships than other Americans seem to. People here are too busy for one another.
- Everyone in America is always so stressed and frantic. They never relax. I feel like I can’t relate to others.
This is so true, in particular the last two points. After several years of living abroad, I was shocked at how intense and stressed-out most Americans are. No more leisurely hour-long lunches with colleagues… everyone eats at their desks or goes downstairs to “grab something.” Once you’ve lived the good life, it’s hard to go back.