The Culture Shock of Home

February 18, 2015 Phil Meadows

In the winter of 2015, traveler Ed Worthy and a group of 17 friends traveled to Havana, Trinidad and Cienfuegos on a private group trip to Cuba. After 8 days, Worthy recalled his most prominent impressions:

I was quite surprised to experience a culture shock upon my return to the U.S. after just one week in Cuba. (Not since the 1960s when I returned to the U.S. from extended stays in Asia have I had such an experience.)  Seeing Miami’s expansive development from the airplane window startled me. What a stark and sudden contrast with Cuba — completely different worlds separated by a mere 30-minute plane ride. This forced me to think deeply about Cuba and life in the U.S. Are we in the U.S. truly any “better off” as individuals than Cubans who lack so much of what we take for granted?

My culture shock reflects, in part, how totally immersed in the world of Cuba my fellow travelers and I became during our recent trip.  For me the opportunity to become fully engaged with the people and culture of a different country is a mark of a very successful trip.  This is why I want to travel.

The immersion was due to two factors:  1) CCJ’s approach to travel; and 2) our isolation in Cuba from the outside world.  When people travel today and want to stay constantly connected to their lives in their home countries, they are not able to focus on the culture and people of the place they are visiting.  Perhaps CCJ should encourage people on all its trips to leave their smart phones at home.

-Ed Worthy, Cuba January 2015