Dealing With PTF (Post-Trip Funk): My Return Home
It’s been over a week since I arrived back here in North America, switching hemispheres, jumping from Fall to Spring – yet again. I’m sure most, if not all, can relate when I say it’s been surreal.
Even when reading Jon’s post on the PTF (Post-Trip Funk), I kept saying to myself: “that could never happen to me.” Well, it did, and with a great force. I think that my somewhat-recovery after just a week is pretty good. Nevertheless, there are some observations and recommendations, the quirky and the practical, that I would like to share with globetrotters everywhere.
It was incredible to come back and realize that the small idiosyncrasies you do throughout your day are actually habits. For example, my first experience with a Toronto streetcar was humorously embarrassing. Without hesitation, as the streetcar rumbled up the street, I impulsively stuck out my arm to “wave” it down — a necessary reality with buses in Buenos Aires. The other people around looked at me, stared, and continued to stare, even when I climbed up and took my seat on the streetcar. I think they were trying to figure out where I was coming from. I looked like a Torontonian, but there was something a little off. I giggled.
Another interesting experience, and obviously common symptom of PTF, is the continuous existential questioning and comparing of cultures. Obviously you notice the differences, but what is more striking is that you will start seeing the similarities. When reminiscing about tuk-tuk rides while riding your bicycle through your old neighborhood, it will make you smile, thinking about how people are inherently the same with just a little splash of different cultural practices.
You may weigh the pros and cons of staying and leaving. Usually commitments to a new apartment or replenishing a bank account will outweigh all, but you will try to rationalize your way out of both. Personally, I am using this moment to learn to “go with the flow”; to sooth my impulsivity.
You may want to get a puppy, get a normal career, or invest in a house the day after you return, just because you want to feel a little stability. I recommend giving any decision a couple of months, just to see if your travel clock begins ticking again.
I recommend staying with friends or family in the middle of nowhere for a time. It gives you the ability to be alone, to sulk, to crawl into your suitcase. It gives you time to digest the change, subduing the impulsion to go out with friends and make their ears hurt with too many stories.
What is most important to keep in mind is that any decision you make or obsessive-compulsive rituals that you do to deal with PTF are, as Jon said, painful, but necessary.
By Brit Weaver
About the Author
Toronto born and based, Brit is an avid leisure cyclist, coffee drinker and under-a-tree park-ist. She often finds herself meandering foreign cities looking for street eats to nibble, trees to climb, a patch of grass to sit on, or a small bookstore to sift through. You can find her musing life on her personal blog, TheBubblesAreDead.wordpress.com.
Published on May 12, 2010