Culture-acclimation

I don’t really know what to say. Yesterday on facebook I posted a status, retelling a conversation I’d had with my pastor’s wife wherein she finally informed me I was going through culture shock.

“No, I’m not! I’ve been here 9 weeks.” And now nothing seems quite as fun, I’m fed up with missed connections and lacking my usual support. I miss home. I am tired of white rice. I would like a dove chocolate bar more than almost anything and clearly this is everyone else’s fault.

It’s not that it’s a shock, it’s just…a lot. Then again, according to this website, I need to just call a pot a pot.And my body started responding in shock. Or tears, rather. Those of you who aren’t emotional now have two options: 1) Stop reading 2) Stay put and realize you may or may not have any understanding of why I act this way, but that doesn’t okay – you can still be patient. Some Americans go through culture shock by getting drunk for weeks on end, others only eat fast food, some get very critical, some leave, others pick fights with those around them and verbally compare. Others, think it didn’t happen. Since a lot of my readers haven’t spent quite this much time overseas, connecting with other foreigners no more than two days a week – I’m asking that you either leave or just don’t judge.

I’ve seen my other Western friends react in a variety of ways. They can become very critical of one another – insisting that we keep embracing the culture, even when someone’s just crying out for a break [Guilty, to a degree]. They hate it – it’s gross, dirty, greasy, loud, fussy, you name it, Home is not that way. They Cry [guilty]. They call home, constantly. They just stop experiencing the culture, recreating their own cultural community. They become critical, and frustrated – something that was sweet a few days ago, is suddenly the most inefficient way to accomplish any task. They get drunk, they take foolish risks, they go on adventures. They leave and come home.

Some people hit these walls in the first week, but usually in the first month. I’ve traveled enough, processed enough, that I now start hitting my walls well after the first month. Long enough that everything really does seem normal. Until it doesn’t .

So. There’s not much to say. I don’t want to whine about it. I’ve decided I’m going to go dancing later this week, I’m going to sleep – a lot, I’m being a little more honest, I’m going to call my Canadian friend and ask if I can cook at her house this week, I’m giving myself a break – even though I really don’t think it’s deserved. I might skype a little extra (if I have the patience to plan it in advance). If you ask me to talk about it, I probably won’t. In fact, tomorrow I might say it’s just fine and dandy, and it won’t even be a lie.

I wish there were a conclusion to this, but there isn’t. If i didn’t write this post, I’d have to tell some of you about it later, and deal with the question of, “But why didn’t you tell ME?”

I have hope and faith that in a week, or maybe a day or a month, I won’t feel so abandoned in this city of strangers. I’ll re-recognize my friends, and stop feeling hurt when they aren’t free. I’ll re-embrace the excitement of living abroad. I’ll realize that no matter how humbling it is, sometimes tears really are the best medicine.

Until then. I’m going to pray, and practice breathing and patience.

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One thought on “Culture-acclimation

  1. Culture shock can be brutal! I find it goes in cycles, great for weeks, then hating everyone and every thing. I very much fall into the “dealing by criticizing” category. Great post. Can’t wait to hang out!

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