Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Being honest about culture shock

It's extremely easy to make moving overseas sound like a romance novel. In a way, it is. When you first arrive everything is so new and shiny, the food is fabulous, and {in my case} you're often with a group of people that makes your lack of language skills seem fun and challenging.

Two months later, I moved to a new city. It was nice, friendly, less crowded. I liked it. But, suddenly, I was alone. I had no friends, no group, no idea how or where to do anything {my orientation group stayed in Beijing}. I explored a bit {and found some beautiful things} and was momentarily re-assured. But then. I had to find an apartment, find my job, find a grocery store {this is much easier with company support and/or a group of 5 people to do it with}. Oh yeah, and I had a mouth infection but no clue how to get to the Doctor or how I would even tell them what my problem was. I wanted to go home. I wanted to know what everyone was saying. I was not amused that I wouldn't always know what I was  getting at food places or that I'd think I was ordering one thing and getting something else entirely.

Suddenly, I was extremely sympathetic to the countless campers I'd counseled over the years. You can miss your home and still want to stay and experience things I told them. But I almost didn't want to. I wanted to go home and for a few moments, I didn't particularly care that I have a great job and for the most part have been enjoying this experience.

Yes, friends, I was experiencing culture shock. Some people don't. Some people, like me, run into it after a longer amount of time. Sometimes it's mixed with homesickness and it's hard to tease out which is which. It was easier, though, to get through it knowing that it was normal. That it happens to everyone. That if you're patient, and wait, and breathe, things will get better.

And they have. I've fallen into a routine again. I have an apartment. I cook. I have my own bedding {this is a big deal for me} and a nearby store sells things from home. Life is good. Look for a "things I love post" in the next few days!

1 comment:

  1. good luck! i don't think i would want to move/work in a country where i didnt know the language!