Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Culture Shock--the real story =)

So, I have been in the Czech Republic for almost four months, and I believe I have a few words to say about the phenomenon called Culture Shock...

The first thing I have to say is that it came as a total surprise. I had heard and read about it, but I NEVER thought in a million years that any of it would REALLY affect ME.

I love leaving my home, have done it many times, plan to continue doing so, and despite missing certain people and things, I never really get homesick. In fact, I travel with the idea that I can really live anywhere--happily (with certain pre-conditions met, of course). I explore new places with questions in the back of my mind: does this place suit me as well has my home town? Better? Could I relocate here? How would I like living here?

So how could I possibly experience culture shock? ThatÅ› not for me, right? Wrong!

I first want to say that culture shock has nothing to do with liking or disliking a place. It has to do with feeling like an idiot. It has to do with not knowing how to do things--simple things--that one can do with his/her eyes closed at home. It has to do with feeling that the things that should be easy are now difficult again. It has to do with feeling like a child, with feeling the loss of hard-earned independence (terrible for an American). It has to do with sometimes feeling that "simple" things are too difficult to even try.

Some of this is just perception, not reality, but it is felt nonetheless. And it makes me tired sometimes. Cranky sometimes. More emotional. There is a constant stress that I am usually not even aware of until the crankiness comes, or the listlessness, or the tears---seemingly out of the blue at times. It seems crazy to have stress and not be aware of it. But it is true. I have some feelings I cannot articulate, feelings I am not able to talk about or describe...These things can also happen at home, but it feels different when in another place.

I like being in the Czech Republic. I am happy to be here. There are so many wonderful, wonderful people who do a lot to help me and make things easier for me every day. I feel glad to know them and lucky too. Even when things are difficult, I wouldn't trade this year for anything. And, let me be clear--MOST of the time, it is fantastic, and I am fine. I am really enjoying my time here. I love my town, and I know I will want to return to it many times after this year is over.

I have to think about this some more. I don't know if I am making any sense or being specific enough.

I will be going home in two days. Spur of the Moment decision (a few weeks ago). I am glad I am going, and I look forward to it, but I still say I am not homesick. A part of me really wants to stay here at the same time that I am happy to go to LA. I already feel that this is sort of my home too, and I feel myself being pulled in two directions at once. It's not a bad thing though.

As, I said above, I have to think about this topic some more. I will revisit it in a later blog entry. I am already getting some ideas, but my bed is calling me now. Keep reading.



Blogger Elaine said...

While I'm so sorry to read that you're experiencing these emotions, I'm extatic that you're coming home...even if it is for a little while. You'll be okay, my dear. This short breather will give you your second wind then you'll be in the travelin' mood again

4:13 PM  
Blogger Britt said...

Ms. Moton, it's Brittney...

I think I'd feel the same way you are had I left my home and went to such a welcoming place for a long period of time.

It was great seeing you today and both of your statements were true: I am sad and I am tired. This year just isn't working for me in so many ways.

I was so happy to see you today, so when Ms. Ahn told us you might stop by at the end of the period, I tried working as fast as I could just so when you came I'd be able to talk to you. :]

8:52 PM  
Blogger Karla said...

Hi Kylowna,
I ran across your blog when searching on Czech Fulbright... nice photos and interesting to learn more about your experiences here than we had time for at the Thanksgiving get-together. We missed you at the Christmas meeting but I think most of the teacher exchange Fulbrighters are having a good experience.
(One little suggestion though, you might want to set your blog to archive monthly since then the photos won't take as long to load. I have a fast connection and at first I thought something had gone wrong with it. But once they did load I enjoyed seeing them.)
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

10:49 AM  
Blogger Karla said...

Oops, I see you do have archives set up, but the main page is showing EVERYTHING. Very slow, alas.

10:52 AM  
Blogger David Allison said...


I know all about the culture shock phenomenon...it's quite a quagmire, if you ask me. "Am I really happier here or is it just because I know it's temporary and everything is new?" "Am I seeing all the pros and cons of this new place I'm in, or am I blinded, again, by the novelty of all things here?"...the questions go on and on...So are you back in the States now? For good or only for the Xmas season? Hope all is well, and miss ya much.


6:12 AM  
Blogger Travelin' Fool said...

Thanks for the imput Karla. I actually chose for it to show more enries because for some reason it was taking a long time to load even before, so I thought, it may as well load a lot, and when it's done... Anyway thanks for the thoughts.


4:25 PM  
Blogger Travelin' Fool said...

Hi David!!

Thanks for the commiseration. It ia ALL that and then some, I'll tell ya. I miss you too. I think of you all in Arizona often. Hope you are well and happy there. I am home for Christmas, returnig to CZ on Jan 1. Happy to be home and looking forward to going back. Wild. Catch you later.


4:27 PM  
Blogger Brett said...

Hey Kylowna,

I promised to contribute and this thread seems like one I really can comment on!
Culture shock is often just that-- a shock, particularly if you have been a traveller/residing abroad for some time. I lived in Turkey for almost 5 years and throughout that time it didn't get to any severe degree, but when I moved to the UK it hit me in the first few months and even now, almost 2 years after I arrived, I'm just getting over it. For me, the winter darkness, which is so different from LA, can exaccerbate it too.
I've found that going home for a short time can be a good idea as it might show you the realities of home that homesickness had left out. But for me I have to also push myself to get excited again about my new country. Going to a new place and getting out of my "kilometre of comfort" (the tiny space that your daily routine takes up-- even in a huge city like LA)helps. Simply going to work or coming home a new route can have a profound effect.
With a little bit of effort I've found that shock does fade.

Wishing you a Happy New Year,


4:46 AM  

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