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Forks, Portland, Lyon - France, Paris - France, Portland and ending up in Bellingham.... the adventures of my life!

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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Culture Shock: Going through the Phases

About 6 months ago I wrote about something called 'culture shock'... and over the weekend I realized I am experiencing it at this moment.  There's four stages in culture shock.. and it happens to those of us who are staying in a country for an 'extended' amount of time.  In my case there's no official end to this extension- but for many of you.. even a year abroad in an exchange brings these emotions..

Let's start with a chart..

So. Predeparture ups and downs are pretty much the stress involved in leaving.  I experienced this with my family in Portland, I was stresses, edgy, easily agitated- cried a lot.

The plane landed in London, I passed the train to Lyon.. and suddenly everything was so bright I noticed things that were amazing about Lyon... that honeymoon stage.

I even would say goodnight to Fourvière every night in the summer, because I loved it that much.

It's been about 3 1/2 months since I started living here, and the past four days have indicated that I have officially hit the third state, true culture shock and acute homesickness.  I even had this thought last night that I would give anything to see my parents and my brother just once.. just a snuggle.  Just a take-out dinner in front of the television where we watch silly movies.  I am homesick.. and with that comes this indescribable anxiety, like this fear, asking myself;  how am I going to see my parents?  When will I go home next?  French language is so hard... I read like a 2 year old.  Worse, Bri is the brunt of all this.  I shout, I throw things, I whine.. and he does what he can...
Bri:  You want me to get take-out?  We can eat Indian and watch TV!
Horrible.  Horrible for me, horrible for him.

What's worse though is I find myself in an odd position to be without really.. well.. good friends.

So what happens next is the adaptation stage where I find a medium between the two countries and I find a way to be happy.

And so, 'j'attends'.



  1. You are probably PMSing right about now too. Oh poor Brian. We are such high maintenance women. I have worked like 60 hours over the last 4 days. I know you are homesick, but do not glamourize home. There is nothing going on here and the cats would disgust you after a day. They do me. At least Ginger. We love you though!!

  2. I know exactly what you mean! It's horrible, but it'll pass. Just keep doing things that take your mind off it as much as possible, eat high cocoa chocolate, try to keep positive :)

  3. Actually, I am re-looking at this chart...you get to experience this again when you come back home? Well, I bet that as the comings and goings are settled in, that the ups and downs get more leveled out.

  4. High cocoa chocolate, that sounds like a way to sooth it!!


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