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August 31, 2011


What a great read... thanks for your openness -- so many people struggle with this type of isolation, especially after moving long distances. Perhaps the one lesson I'm getting out of it is when that happens, find some reason to get involved with others, wherever that can be. Doesn't necessarily take a disaster but that 'helps' sometimes :)


Upon the completion of my undergraduate degree, way back in 1989, I eagerly moved to western Europe to broaden my horizons and start my masters degree.

From 1989 to 1996 I lived, worked and studied in Lyon, France and Florence, Italy.

Returning home to the United States was an unexpected Wollop.

I discovered that our country had spent fourty-three million dollars on investigating if our then president had sexual encounters with one of his interns.

I also learned that our American Congress endured thirteen months of complete legislative gridlock because of it.

I think part of the "Re-entry" chagrin is because we think we're returning to our homeland the way it was when we departed, when in fact, much has changed and so have we.

I remember one of my students asking me "Hey Mr Noll, did you see Sinfeld last night?" Sincerely I replied: "What's Sinfeld?" They crowed back; "Yeah right!"

Looking back I can't believe I didn't know what it was. I mean, back then I actually had a TV so I had less of an excuse.

There were tens upon tens of these little encounters with my "Re-entry." Some were and ARE more significant than others.

When we expatriate we are expecting to submerse ourselves in our host country's culture entirely. We are anticipating the change and look forward to it. But when we return home to the states, the change may catch you off guard. You are not anticipating anything other than maybe a few newly constructed buildings that weren't there when you left.

I completely understand the woes of returning home. At the risk of sounding unhappy, I HAVE actually said the words; "I should have stayed in France!"

The storm story makes sense. I can see how mother nature's rath might shake you from any melancholy or isolation.

I enjoyed reading this because I had a similar experience. For the longest time I thought my difficulties were my own. Its refreshing to know that other Americans have experinced similar circumstances.

Nice observations Anna! I'm glad I read this.

Sorry for the delay in responding to this. The things you mention, fatigue, inability to concentrate, indecisiveness, appetite unpredictability, self-loathing, sadness, are all symptoms of clinical depression. If this persists, you should see a doctor and/or a counselor. Really. Sometimes we can recover spontaneously, but sometimes things get progressively worse. Probably this is situational, caused by having to return from Kenya when you wanted to stay. But the brain can learn to be depressed (read Peter Kramer's Listening to Prozac) and it can become a more or less permanent condition. I am not a doctor, just a concerned friend who sees something that may not be there. Good luck. See a doctor if things don't improve soon.

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  • Isak is a space to celebrate tales and truth in the curious, joyful way embodied by the writer for which it is named. The name "Isak," after all, means "laughter," as she was fond of pointing out.

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