Sunday, August 14, 2011

Culture Shock

This week has been a tough one.  I think I have begun to move past the first stage of culture shock, where everything is new and interesting and fun and exciting, to the next stage where everything stinks.  I am trying to stay positive though.

Just to illustrate, let me tell you about the past weekend.  We went as a family to Paradise Beach Resort for the orientation for the clinic that Kerri will be volunteering at.  We were there Friday all day, stayed there Friday night, and then spent Saturday there as well.  They like to take the time to explain all about the clinic and all the logistics of what the volunteers will be doing and their schedule and stuff like that.  So they took all of the volunteers (and the families) out to this absolutely amazing beach resort where we were able to relax.  I wasn't required to go to most of the orientation sessions, so I could just hang out and swim and snorkel and spend time with my kids.  Sounds pretty good, hey?

It was very nice, but I found myself becoming more and more depressed as Friday progressed.  It wasn't for any particular reason that I can think of.  I just felt grumpy and sad and was missing my former life in Canada.  It was really ironic that here I was at a tropical beach resort, appropriately named Paradise, sitting in the sun, surrounded by palm trees waving in the breeze, drinking a cold Coke and eating some of the most delicious food ever, and I was becoming more and more depressed.  By Friday night I was ready to pack up and go to the airport and get on the first flight in the general direction of home.  I guess that's Culture Shock Stage 2.

Why am I telling you this?  For a couple of reasons.  First, because this is my blog so I can!  But seriously, it feels kind of cathartic to write this out, and lucky you get to hear all about it!  I probably need to write this to help process it all.  I find it does help quite a bit.  Second, we want to be real with you.  I don't want to ever come across like we have it all figured out and are always happy and everything is wonderful and our life is all warm and fuzzy.  Truth is, this is hard and sometimes it sucks.  Third, I feel that I owe you an honest account of our time here, so that you can live vicariously through us!  I know that most of you will not have the opportunity to be here experiencing what we are.  We are so grateful to all of you for your support and encouragement and therefore want to share the experiences however we can.

So what happened afterwards?  Well, I got a good night's sleep on Friday, woke up in a better mood, and had an absolutely great day on Saturday.

I feel like a moody teenager again...

And I figured out how to make homemade Slurpees, so now I'm happy!


Chantelle said...

Hey there. Don't ever stop giving an honest account. People hold us international worker up too high on a pedestal sometimes and many other IW's are afraid to be real and transparent about the journey. It is NOT easy living so far away from everything and everyone you know and love. Prayer can get you through, but that means you have to tell people! Don't be hard on yourself for days/hours of depression, regret, frustration or anger. All part of the process my friend. Just recognize it for what it is, and process it healthily and cling to God. You will learn to love it there and it will really become home I have no doubt. But it all takes time- so cut yourself some slack :)

Steve said...

Thanks for the encouragement Chantelle! I guess you have a bit of experience with culture shock, hey?

Anonymous said...

As a reader, I appreciate the time your honesty and sincerity. Being a "foreigner" myself here in Washington makes me feels sad , alone and depress at times, but now as I read your blog, I am actually grateful that you are living in the place where I want to be right now. God is with you and your family. I really do pray that you will find happines and be successful asto what you came there God bless you and yor family.

Honey from Washington USA