Over the last few years of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a lot of talk of coming to terms with a “new normal”. Life changed as we knew it and we had to adapt to big changes very quickly.
It has now been a few weeks since we got back from India and I have found myself thinking, again, about what constitutes “normal.” It is very easy to assume that the way that you usually live day to day is normal but being in a country so different was a strong reminder that normal is subjective and it can change overnight or with one plane flight.
When we entered India, we adapted to a new way of life. There were aspects that I struggled to adapt to, like the climate, language barriers and having a packed routine everyday. But I developed a deep appreciation for so many aspects of this new normal. I loved that there was always something happening; there were so many festivals and events and, in general, the streets were always busy. I loved seeing rangoli on the ground in the mornings, I loved having chai everywhere we went and I loved the hospitality of the Indian people. Within each city, we met so many different people living such different lives.
We were told coming back to New Zealand that there would be a “reverse culture shock” or “re-adjustment period”. I definitely felt disorientated coming back and I immediately noticed how quiet it was. I missed the people I had met on the trip and the incredible places we visited. But I also found myself coming back to New Zealand with a new appreciation for things I took for granted – being able to drink tap water, the rolling hills and my friends and family.
In summary, one of the most important things I gained from this trip was perspective – the reminder that normal life is different for everyone and that my lifestyle is just one of many ways of doing life. I came back from India a lot more open-minded but also self-aware and grateful for what I have.