Reverse Culture Shock

So, Tuesday was a real bummer. I don’t know what it was, but Tuesday stunk. I was insecure, sleepy, and jittery. I felt off balance, in both mind and body, and felt like every time I tried to shift gears I would just drop my chain. I had more than one person ask me if I was ok, and I would answer that I was fine, just woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning.

The problem, rather, was that I had the luxury of waking up on the wrong side of the bed, for the first time in a long time.

I’ve been at school for 12 days now, that’s over a week and a half of staying in the same place, something I’ve done only once or twice since September. Otherwise, it’s been travel Monday, settle in Tuesday, train on Wednesday, speeds on Thursday, prerace Friday, race Saturday and Sunday, travel Monday. In that cycle, you restart once a week, reenergize and keep moving.

You dive into a routine of spandex, race wax, ski bags and duffles. Movement becomes a reset button of sorts. Every week you are somewhere new, with new opportunities, more chances to chase. Just as soon as you start to yearn for some stability, for some rest, it all stops.

You return home. You unpack your duffle.

You hang pictures on your wall. Make plans for weekends to come.

You take your car to the shop, buy refrigerated goods and renew your mailing address.

About ten days later, it hits you. It’s really over. You’re not getting into another van on Monday morning.

Of all people, I was probably one of the most content that the season was over. For all of it’s best parts (of which there were an unbelievable amount), it left me very tired. I wanted a break. And yet, April still brought that post season let down that has afflicted me since high school. It comes with our re-entry into society, our packing away of our spandex. It comes with realizing that the world was turning the entire time we were gone, and that we’re expected to help keep it spinning.

remember when these guys re entered society?

It also comes with quite a bit of humor, because sometimes fitting a seasoned nordic skier into society resembles a poor game of tetris, with all the same coloring.

We’ll start with the food. We’ve become so structured by our training, racing and eating schedules, that getting to eat whatever we want is somewhat of an unwelcome freedom. Like, how do you properly fuel a day spent in bed watching Netflix? I don’t know either!

Then there’s the clothes. This one I like. While I feel I did a good job getting creative with my three t-shirts, one flannel and scarf over the past five months, unpacking my car into a closet and reintroducing myself to all of my clothes has been incredibly thrilling. Like Christmas in April.

57edaf169446837dfaebd58ead6c820b (1)

After that comes partying. I don’t have a whole lot to say on this one, other than that I constantly shift between thinking that Nordic skiers are the worst and best in the world at letting loose.

Finally comes the challenge of managing school, friends, and activities without the structure of training. The first week is incredibly productive, you just have SO. MUCH. TIME. You write essays, bang out thank you notes, catch up on your TV series and clean your room. You make phone calls, prepare dinners, and overcommit yourself to the next eight weeks. Around week two, something happens, and you find that all of those commitments shift towards the nonverbal commitment you made to your television screen. After all, you have so much time, you can procrastinate a little bit.

Once you’ve shifted through your clothes, figured out your friends, schedule and living situation, there’s the last bit about recognizing the difference between those things socially accepted in the Nordic world, and those in the real world (**the jury is out on whether or not any of these apply to college students). A few I’ve run into:

You cannot make spandex go from day to night**. It’s not a pencil skirt.

Running to and from work? Only ok if you’re late.

Along those lines, 6 AM runs? Calm down, crazy.

Measuring the world in kilometers. No one knows what you’re saying.


Apparently, 9:30 is no longer an acceptable time to be in bed. And 7:30 no longer one to be out.

Pullup/pushup/situp/100metersprint contests should be private, not public.

“Send it!” You say. “Where?” they ask.

Sharing the dilemma of whether or not you can log your run to class/work/the bar. About as transparent as the metric system.

All and all, the transition has been a little rocky, but it is good to be home. To be resting. To be a little unstructured. And to enjoy it all.

Happy Spring!


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