Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Four Stages

There are four stages to culture shock and living abroad...

1) The honeymoon stage

Symptoms of the honeymoon stage:

-Excitement and euphoria
-General anticipation of everything that you are about to experience
-Everything and everyone you encounter is new and many times exciting
-You’ll probably be eager to learn the language spoken in your host country
During the honeymoon stage you will be poised to take on the challenges of living broad.

Examples of my honeymoon stage:
Grim Reminder of Home
Diamond in the Rough

2) Frustration Stage

After the honeymoon stage your initial excitement may wane. You also may start to feel frustration; this is the onset of the frustration stage. Frustration can occur for various reasons.

Symptoms of the frustration stage:

-Some of your initial excitement dissipates
-Feelings of anxiety, anger and homesickness creep in
-You might reject your new environment and begin to have a lack of interest in your new surroundings
-You’ll become frustrated with trying to speak a foreign language

Examples of my frustration stage:

The Irony of the Peacline
The Day After
No Cake
Royal Mail vs. USPS
What I Miss About San Francisco

3) Understanding Stage

The understanding stage arrives when you develop a more balanced view of your experience abroad.

Characteristics of the understanding stage

-You become more familiar with the culture, people, food and language of your host country
-You will have made friends
-You become less homesick
-You’ll be more comfortable with speaking and listening to the language spoken in your host country
-You become more comfortable and relaxed in your new environment
-You better handle the situations you previously found frustrating

I think I have reached the Understanding Stage. I have been thinking about where Craig and I should move permanently. I know before I wanted us to live in San Francisco but then I've got to thinking about how we will both benefit for our future and what is best for us and our family in the long run (socially, financially, etc). I have been weighing the pros and cons between the UK and America. I realize it is inconvenient here, but people have seemed to survive without satiating their sundae cravings at 2am when everything is closed. I mean do I really need a sundae at that hour? Don't think so. Yes, the royal mail drives me up the wall, but in reality, I wouldn't be dealing with them on a daily basis. My statement, "You are not allowed to get sick after 5:30PM and Sundays because the pharmacy is closed." As I think about it, it can wait until tomorrow when the pharmacy is open, if it can't then you can go to the ER. It's free ANYWAY!!!! Well not exactly free, you pay health tax but at least you won't be charged $200 just for walking through the doors of the ER, and whatever they add on the tab like lab tests/xrays as they do in America. These are little things I have mentioned (healthcare isn't exactly little), and I can easily get over it.

So...I am vascillating and can't make up my mind. The pros and cons are still circling in my head. I haven't been sleeping well for the past few days because there is too much on my mind. Thinking about the aforementioned, counting down the days when I have to leave my soulmate for a long while, and prepping/researching the visa process in both countries. I feel so overwhelmed.

But I digress. I almost forgot about the last stage...

4) Acclimation Stage

During the acclimation stage you will begin to feel like you really belong in your new environment.

Characteristics of the acclimation stage

-You’ll be able to compare the good and bad of your host country with the good and bad of your home country
-You feel less like a foreigner and more like your host country is your second home
-You laugh about things that frustrated you at earlier stages of cultural shock
-Once you reach the acclimation, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that you -can live successfully in two cultures; this is a huge milestone.

Obviously, I haven't gotten to this stage yet and I won't be here long enough to experience this stage. Maybe someday perhaps. ;)

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