Dear Annie: I’ve been studying abroad in Rome for the past three months. I head back to America in a few weeks. I can honestly say I haven’t missed being home. I’ve absolutely loved my stay in Europe. I feel safe and happy.
The one thing I’m dreading is reverse culture shock. I’m afraid I’ll resent my small-town college or that I’ll become depressed when I get home. All of my friends will have left for their own study-abroad adventures. No one will be able to speak the Italian I’ve learned and help me maintain my fluency. The foods and pastimes that I’ve become fond of are nonexistent in America.
My European friends say I should just enjoy the little time I have left abroad and keep positive thoughts when I’m back in America, but I don’t expect my reimmersion process to be that easy. How can I learn to stop living like a dead man walking and not fall into a pit of despair once I board the plane “home”? — Pining for Rome
Dear Rome: Please recognize how fortunate you are to have had the opportunity to spend time in Europe and the fact that you’ve enjoyed it so much. You will miss your Italian friends and Italian pasta, but try not to over-romanticize the experience. Accept it for the short-term fun it was, and know that you can certainly return whenever you can afford to do so. How well you adjust depends entirely on your attitude. Be determined to make it as positive as possible.
Dear Annie: I have a problem with my parents’ decorating habits. They insist on putting up artwork that I did when I was a child. The dining room, living room and bedrooms all have pictures that I drew or painted from the time I was 6 until I was 17. I have repeatedly asked that they remove them, but they say they can’t bear to take them down. Mind you, they have no such pictures from my sister’s childhood. In fact, they don’t even display pictures their grandchildren have drawn.
I know it’s their house, but I’m a 35-year-old man, and I don’t want people to see this stuff and think I still do such childish collages. It also feels creepy. It’s like my parents aren’t allowing me to grow up.
My father insists on telling people I am an artist. At one time, I wanted to be, but now I am a high school teacher and proud of it. How can people take me seriously after talking to my parents? My father says being an artist is special and interesting, and he becomes unhappy if I ask him to describe me differently.
I’ve gotten so fed up that I dread visiting their home, especially when they have guests. What do I do? — Not an Artist
Dear Artist: So your parents think being an artist is ever so much more glamorous than other professions, and they prefer to fantasize about your job. Your attempts to force them to change will only make all of you miserable. Who cares what their friends think? As long as you conduct yourself appropriately and correct any misimpressions, no one will mistake you for a 9-year-old with fingerpaints. We know it’s annoying, but please try to ignore this.
Dear Annie: I read the letter from “Dreading Christmas,” whose husband’s two siblings take turns hosting Christmas Eve dinners in their homes, but they won’t let her reciprocate because she doesn’t want to have it in her house.
I have two sisters who love hosting Thanksgiving dinner and alternate each year. They have lovely china and beautiful homes. I have always lived in a small house, but we have a beautiful yard and garden. We reciprocate by hosting a barbecue on Labor Day weekend.
Maybe “Dreading Christmas” could do something like this. — Oregon
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 Third St., Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.