I left you for the first time in April and undertook a two-month backpacking trip for the same reason everybody leaves home — in search of an adventure. I found my escapade in Southeast Asia, a densely-populated, monocultural, developing society and very much the opposite of you.
An initial culture shock is a rite of passage when travelling outside your comfort zone. You hear the horror stories about squat toilets and crossing swarms of motorbike traffic and mentally, you prepare yourself.
I finally adjusted to the scorching Cambodian sun, the unreliability of electricity and hot water in Vietnam, the mosquitoes of Laos and the exotic foods of Thailand.
But what I didn’t expect to greet me upon my return to Toronto last week was the reality of being an alien in my own city.
The “familiar, yet foreign” feeling is strange, uncanny even, Sigmund Freud might say but it’s not new.
The best way I’ve found to deal with reverse culture shock is to treat Toronto as another travel venture. Instead of mentally commanding myself to feel at home, it feels healthier to adapt the positive, and often enthusiastic nature of travellers.
Toronto is the most fascinating to those whose eyes are constantly moving and absorbing every part of the city.
Forget our long-term relationship, and pretend you are nothing more than a tourist.
Your visit here is temporary, spend one day absorbing this city. Walk down Bay Street and feel insignificant amidst the towering Financial District buildings.
Get lost in the labyrinth tunnels of the PATH and revel in the fact that you’re treading in another city under the city, the world’s largest underground complex, as if superlatives are necessary.
Insert a token and navigate through all of Toronto’s cultures — Chinatown, Little Italy, Koreatown, Greektown on rickety red streetcars that crisscross the grids of the city’s streets or grab a hot dog from the corner vendor.
Forget structure and immerse yourself in the urban chaos of Toronto. New cultural experiences don’t require a journey halfway across the world. You can find an adventure regardless of where you are.