Culture shock is the really yucky part of the cultural immersion experience that happens to most people at some point. It’s the point during study abroad where a person may face information overload or begin feeling especially frustrated with adjusting to different aspects of a new culture such as a language barrier. With 29 more days remaining until the completion of my study abroad program, I think the best kind of advice I could ever give to any future students going on a language exchange program in the face of culture shock is to be patient with yourself when coping with stressors, don’t compare your journey to other students’ in your program, be strong, and don’t give up.
Being patient with yourself means understanding you are human and with that comes limitations when facing frustrations. I had this idea in my head that coming here I would soak up the Spanish language like a sponge and that I would leave here completely fluent. It’s my seventh month into my program in Costa Rica and I still have days where I wake up and I feel like I can’t express everything I want to say correctly. This started a cycle of me being hyper-critical of myself and with that, the language barrier seemed to widen between me and the culture here because I would be so focused on wanting to prevent an error or sounding foolish when I speak that I would sometimes lose the ability to communicate clearly altogether! As a learner of Spanish as a second language, I have to accept that my ability to communicate is not comparable to native speakers—but that’s completely okay because I came here to grow with a new language! Learning a new language is a challenge in and of itself, and with that comes inevitable mistakes! I have a professor who speaks English fluently, and he has even admitted that despite having several years of experience in another language, he also makes errors!
Not comparing yourself to your peers means accepting that you’re on your own unique journey and that adjusting to a new culture is different for everyone. The classroom setting where you learn a new language is a culture in and of itself, and this is a time where it’s important to focus on personal growth in the language. For the first time in my life, I am taking a full course load in another language which is something I never anticipated I would be doing in my life. That being said, I have had some intense moments of feeling overwhelmed with information, especially in my advanced Spanish grammar course. Sometimes I would also catch myself comparing my struggle to students who seem to so easily grasp a complicated subject when I’m needing to ask the professor to repeat the same thing several times. I think comparing myself exacerbated my sense of feeling overwhelmed because then I would start second guessing my own knowledge which definitely does not help me learn. If you ever feel yourself making a comparison to others during your time abroad, it helps to take a step back to acknowledge that everyone comes from different walks of life and thus handles situations differently. In my case, there are native speakers in some of my courses, and naturally their transition into our courses may have been different than mine as someone who is acquiring Spanish as a second language—therefore there is absolutely no good reason to make such an unjust comparison!
Being strong and not giving up means finding your strength with a support group and realizing that you can accomplish your goals with a positive outlook. Though my culture shock has bestowed moments of frustrations, and intense moments of homesickness, learning to develop an attitude of gratitude has allowed me to finish my year off strongly. I am really fortunate to have been blessed with a loving support system–my host mom, a really incredible best friend in my program, and my parents in the States whom I can call during times of distress. My host mom has been supportive by checking in on me, and just spending quality time with her has helped me so much. We actually just finished reading Charlotte’s Web together in Spanish. I read it aloud to her each week for the past few months, and I must say, even in Spanish this book makes my eyes water!
One of my best friends in the program has also been really emotionally supportive by volunteering with me at the Reforestation Center at our host university. We’ve been helping bundle trees in small bags with soil so that the university can reforest areas around Costa Rica. The professors and students who work at the center have also been so friendly and kind to us with enthusiasm to teach us about the different species they have in the greenhouse and around UNA (Universidad Nactional de Costa Rica).
And lastly, my parents at home have also been supportive of me when I’ve felt overwhelmed. While it’s important to be conscious of spending too much time Skyping with family because it may intensify homesickness, I think it’s important to keep in contact with family who can offer insight on your personal strengths, which my parents definitely do. They’ve given me so much encouragement to finish my year abroad strongly—which is exactly what I’m doing!
Also, when facing culture shock another powerful tool is to always take time to acknowledge the little things that are special about the culture you’re living in–like Costa Rican iced coffee!
I would now like to take this opportunity to answer the most pressing question on my Mama’s mind other than safety: Are you making any friends? (*For the record, my Mama would like to state that she thinks I’m cool and no, she does not actually worry about this for me—BUT IT MAKES A GREAT SEGWAY!) I will answer this made-up question in three parts.
Part One: Friends from Gringolandia (Forty points if you knew there was such a phrase as Gringolandia.)
I’ve made some great friends from my program. I’m attending the University of Arizona’s first ever IDEAS-AVANSCO program in Antigua where we study a variety of different topics depending on our interests, all with a social and political focus. These lovely ladies and gentleman have been such a reassuring rock. We struggle together with plenty of things, whether it’s trying to speak in grammatically correct Spanish sentences, finding our way to new cafés, understanding the social and political climate of Guatemala while living in effectively a tourist town (a wonderful one though), or trying to get all of our work done on time. In a phrase, we’re all figuring out how to walk and talk like real adults. And like any true strangers-turned-friends, it’s amazing how much we’ve come to trust one another with the stories of our lives.
Part Two: Friends from Antigua
I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk about four special people from Guatemala who have been my friends when they really didn’t have to be. Ladies and gentlemen, let me present to you the first friend: Claudia Alonzo!!
Claudia is our supervisor, La Jefa, and the General Manager of this non-baseball team we like to call AVANSCO. She arranges everything for us even when she doesn’t have to, politely corrects our mangled Spanish, and floods us with kindness. Last weekend at Semuc Champey would not have been possible if Claudia hadn’t arranged it for us, despite the fact that it was our independent trip and she had no obligation to us. From that same strain of kindness comes Stephany Montenegro!!
Stephany is right alongside Claudia, working at our school trying to make sure we get the best experience. She has maturity and grace that well surpasses her age, which is the same as mine—meaning she is oodles cooler than me. What struck me the most about Stephany, besides her general friendliness, was how genuine her kindness and concern for our well-being is. She must have called or texted me more than a pollster during election season to make sure that I was feeling better after my first-week-sickness. And I hope that metaphor doesn’t make it seem like she bothered me; to the contrary, she warmed my heart, extending me the same amount of care I’d expect from an old friend. The final double duo of friendship comes in the form of my host parents, Lucky and José Morales!!
The second they opened their door to me nearly two weeks ago, they greeted me with shouts of joy and hugs like they were another long-lost set of cool aunt and uncle (to clarify uncles and aunts in my readership, I said another—you’re cool too). They hug me, pack me food, tease me, and remain patient with me when I stumble with my words. That last part, their willingness to talk to me, is something I treasure to an incalculable extent. We don’t think about it, but with our families we have the ease and comfort of knowing that we can relax and talk as much as we want. We know for certain that they care about us. We also know that fear with people outside of our comfort zone that we’re talking too much, that we could be disappointing or boring them. Every time I’ve had that fear, Lucky and José have dashed it. Their boundless care for others exhibited in even the smallest gesture like motioning for me to sit down and tell them about my day makes, as my friend Alessondra says, my heart full. For all of these wonderful friends who make my heart full, know that it’s my goal to return the favor.
Part Three: The Friend I Want To Have
This week I met the coolest person that I’ve ever met. His name is Juan Pablo Romero Fuentes. Juan Pablo is from Jocotengango (just outside of Antigua) and runs a school called Los Patojos, which means The Little Ones, that he started out of his house for kids in a community rampant with indescribable and inequitable tragedies. His school has had thousands of students, and now stands in a new facility that looks like it came straight out of a children’s book or a dream. I get the privilege to intern there, and I had to stop myself from physically bouncing in excitement during the car ride over. On my first day at Los Patojos on Wednesday, the depth of care and intelligence with which Los Patojos approaches education floored me. They take care of nutritional, health, clothing, and emotional problems that face these kids so that it’s possible to clear those hurdles and actually learn. In addition to regular school subjects, Los Patojos kids can learn dancing, sports, music, art, cooking, and whatever else they can dream of learning. To learn more about the school and Juan Pablo, watch this video. In person, Juan Pablo is even more hilarious and insightful than he seems in the video. His hospitality and openness to me and my fellow gringo interns made me feel like I belonged, which is an incredibly generous gesture to extend to a foreigner to the program, not to mention to the country. But that’s who Juan Pablo is. I hope that I get to call him my friend in the same way my sister hopes to someday call Taylor Swift her friend. It would be an honor.
Maybe you noticed a trend of effusive kindness and willingness to welcome amongst all my friends. (Twenty points if you did—I know it’s generous, but so are they. Much like my imaginary point system, their kindness is free and limitless, so their mindset is ‘why not give a lot?’) In the spirit of friendship, I am trying hard every day to treat everyone I meet with the same level of respect and humanity I’ve received. Let’s be honest: it’s easy to ignore every street vendor with indifference, to suspect and fear the guys standing on the corner, or talk without thoughtfulness to the people in restaurants or museums. But we have to remember that each person we meet is actually a person—a person with family, friends, inside jokes, a first grade teacher, and passions. Empathy is to indifference as smiling is to frowning: easier (here’s looking at you, SATs). It may take some effort, but it takes more effort to stifle humanity than it does to let it flourish.
Thanks for listening, friends. Hug someone you love today.
Has it been easy making friends in Tanzania? Well it’s certainly been a wild ride.
Tanzanian culture is by nature, very friendly. It is up to one’s self to decide which friendliness is genuine and what is simply good marketing to convince you to purchase souvenirs.
Overall however, I found it was incredibly easy to make local friends if you were willing to give it a chance. Simply by practicing Swahili with locals they would think twice about selling their merchandise to me and instead strike up a conversation. By the end of the day, I knew that if I ever came back to that part of town a week later, that person would recognize me and greet me as a friend.
These occurrences of course are surface friendships, though this doesn’t mean that things never got deeper. Most notably during my month on the coast of Tanzania, in the small fishing village of Ushongo, making connections with locals was one of the highlights of my stay.
Between my remedial Swahili and a local with decent English, a wonderful conversation could be had. I made acquaintances with the local bartenders, fisherman, fellow travelers, and NGO managers, exchanging with each stories of our lives thus far. After befriending the owner of a local beach lodge called Drifters, I realized how important making these connections were. Tuma first came off as a stern woman, but after she warmed up to us, she became one of our dearest friends, saving my butt with arranging a new computer charger to be sent from a bigger town via motorcycle, providing us with a home cooked meal, and sharing her experience and wisdom of Tanzanian and coastal culture. Her son was our age and he became a pal of ours as well, driving all the way up from Dar es Salaam to visit us during our second time at Ushongo. This family is one I won’t soon forget and I know if I ever return to Tanzania I have friends to visit.
In terms of friendships within my SIT program, well that’s a story in itself. This program was made up of 21 students — 21 students who essentially spent 24/7 in shared close quarters with each other. We became a family. We had our ups and downs, like any big family, but at the end of the day, I couldn’t imagine a better group to spend these past 3 months with. It was impossible not to fall in love with each and every persons’ quirks, admire their drive and intelligence, or laugh and cry as I experienced the Tanzanian environment by their sides. Perhaps it helped that we were in a specialized program: wildlife conservation and political ecology–meaning we were bound to share some common interests. Yet, these students came from all walks of life: east coast, west coast, the south… private schools, public schools… majors in education, engineering, sociology, film, biology, and environmental studies. The diversity in our group only brought us together because despite our differences, we were all experiencing the triumphs and struggles of Tanzania… together. Without this group, without these specific, wonderful people, my time in Tanzania would never have been as amazing as it was. I will look back years from now and not simply remember the elephants and baboons breaking into our camp, the challenge of my Maasai homestay, or the difficulty of using a squat toilet — but I will remember these friends that I bonded so strongly with. The friends that challenged me to think deeper, sing and laugh louder, and cry harder than I ever have while saying goodbye. But with these friends, I know that that “goodbye” is really only a “see you later”.
How the heck do they spend so much time talking?! It’s ridiculous! Parties last from 2 o’clock on a Friday afternoon to 5 a.m. Saturday morning, and they’re talking the whole freakin’ time. Blah blah blah, yak yak yak. And they’re always smiling – you’d think they had a surgical implant that left them with permanent grins. And I have homework to do, blog posts for a scholarship I need to write, a future (really really important) career to plan….RIGHT NOW. They’re too happy…it doesn’t make sense. Something must be wrong underneath it all, right?
Wrong. So very, very wrong.
I’m honestly ashamed that those were some of my thoughts about Danish social life after being thrust into it for a couple of weeks. The complete change in my attitude towards them and towards friendship thankfully has, I hope, left me a better person, and such a complex shift is no easy notion to convey using mere words. I won’t attempt that here. But I think that a start is to give you some candid vignettes of my feelings and thoughts throughout the change. I realize that what I’ve written can seem choppy – but I think it’s the closest I can come to accurately describing the change. Each paragraph represents a fundamentally different mindset I was in towards the Dane’s focus on social interaction; I’ve written a short conclusion to try to give them some context. It’s an unusual format, but I hope something of value comes through…
Nate, come on. This isn’t so bad, I think you need to slow down. Sure partying with your fraternity brothers at Oktoberfest was fun, and you unexpectedly ran into friends from your program in Salzburg and explored with them. And it felt wicked classy to view the innumerable masterpieces in the Vatican with Jeffrey the art history major you met at DIS. But you enjoyed those times because you slowed down. Because you made time to get to know the people you were with. Isn’t this the same? Didn’t you come to Denmark to explore their culture? This is part of it! So let the worries about your work go…it doesn’t matter as much as this.
After the Studytour with My Core-Course to Sweden and Estonia
Wow you’ve missed these guys. Your host mother Dot can be such a control-freak but it just means she cares, and the family interrupts you working for the same reason! You know, I think you made pretty good friends with Ryan, Dan, Rachel, and Saman over this break. Sure, you’re not best friends, but it was fun to hang out with them. And once again, you weren’t worried about working. It’s stupid to say but I really think you’re better at interacting somehow. You’ve always been a bit socially awkward – case in point you used to bounce your leg and fidget when talking with anyone. But you felt so much more relaxed when talking with people during this trip! And more confidant, and even clever? I think you’ve been too focused on what you need to do; you haven’t been appreciating the fun people around you.
3 a.m., A Neighborhood Birthday Party
God, this celebration is still going? It’s so late, and everyone here is WIDE awake. And they’re just talking! Well, I guess the family over there is dancing and Anton is playing a game with his friends…this is really cool. I really want to be interested and interesting enough to be able to hold a conversation for this long! It’s incredible. Ok go talk to that guy, you haven’t met him yet.
Last Day in Copenhagen
Well, this is good I’m hanging out with my friends but I’m worried. They’re so new to me but I feel like I know them better than my friends, even my brothers, back at F&M. I guess I became friends with them back home by doing things together; Ryan and I did the relief trips to the south, Allen and I were roommates, Josh and I explored town. But do I really know them? Do I really know these four degenerates (and of course they’re not actually that bad) sitting around me and talking? Man, I haven’t been a good friend to my buddies back home at all – I’ve always put work first. How am I going to make it up to them in a single semester?
One week since coming home
I can’t believe this. I feel like I just got off the Tower of Terror at Disneyland – my body is back on familiar ground but my mind is still pumping with adrenaline and excitement. How can I possibly understand everything that happened in the last four months? How can anyone else? But being so worried about not being a good friend was stupid – of course I know my buddies! I think you just got tossed too quickly into having to worry almost exclusively about who you were socially. It’s incredible how much the Danes care about friendship – but it’s got to be both a blessing and curse though! For sure, that guy who just got divorced must have hated having to act so happy at the dinner. And it’s such a drain to have to be “on” all the time, to be ready to immediately put aside what you’re doing to laugh or comment. But it’s good too, right? They’re showing they care about each other, and it’s got to be part of their Janteloven precept that no one is better than anyone else. I don’t know, I definitely like just talking more than I used to.
As you can probably tell from the intro, in the first month of my study-abroad program I felt annoyed, frustrated, fed up with and confused by the huge investment of time and emotional energy my host family placed in their social life. Of course I wanted to get to know my host family, but it seemed that I couldn’t escape when I really needed to get work done. But fast-forward another month and I started to realize during my semester excursions abroad that I was missing my host family! Somehow through the thick-headed work-hard play-hard mentality I’d brought from F&M, they’d managed to get something through to me. Maybe it was their “hygge” notion of relaxing together with well-known confidants, maybe it was simply the comfort in trusting each other, but a very essential part of how it felt to be in the homestay with Dot, Jan, and Anton had grabbed hold of me at a fundamental level. Had I been too harsh, too quick to judge the time they spent together? Maybe it was more valuable than I’d thought…
The birthday party and study-tour were turning points for me. I started to really appreciate the art of conversation that my host family practiced whenever possible. And I was learning to really treasure the friends I was slowly getting to know in Copenhagen. I was coming to realize that without them, being in a foreign country would have no meaning. And I began to question myself and my other friendships – was I a good friend? What did that even mean? Another month and now I’m back home in the U.S. If nothing else, Denmark taught me about the importance of building strong friendships – and that you really do have to construct them, shape them with care and time and effort. As I said before, I look back at what I thought at the beginning of the program with guilt and even a bit of disgust, but hopefully it can help someone reading this to avoid my mistakes. To really appreciate whatever culture they’re visiting, open themselves to thinking and acting like the “natives.” And, of course, to talk with them.
I’ve heard talk about culture shock many times in the past. I don’t think I ever understood why it happened, though, or why people didn’t just get over the “shock” of being in a new culture and place. Shouldn’t it be exciting and fun? Didn’t you want the completely different way of life?
The answer is yes. Yes, you wanted this, and yes, it’s exciting and fun. For a while, at least. To be honest, and maybe a little scientific too, there are actually multiple stages to culture shock. The first of these phases is feeling that everything is new, interesting, and exciting. I identified with this for a short two weeks during the first month of my time in Ecuador. I was intrigued by the different people and delighted by the array of new things to do and places to see. However, as it is for most people, that stage didn’t last, and I hit the next couple pretty quickly. Differences become apparent and irritating. Problems occur and frustrations set in, and, You may feel homesick, depressed, and helpless. These ones were a big theme throughout my semester, actually. I’ve struggled with a lot of homesickness – more than the average student does, in my mind. And that has been something I haven’t been able to understand about my own journey. Why me? Studying abroad has been my dream since I began high school. But now that I’m here doing it, it has turned out to be a bigger challenge than I had imagined it would be. The challenges, such as being alone across the world or trying to learn the new language completely, have led to some frustration. But, I think it’s important that students studying around the globe understand that that is normal. They aren’t the only student who has ever missed home before or gone through unexpected difficulties. Knowing that just might help bring them out of that stage a little bit sooner. Once a student learns that they can overcome their homesickness and the other problems, they really do learn that they can conquer anything, anywhere.
When moving on, you develop strategies to cope with difficulties and feelings, make new friends, and learn to adapt to the host culture. What sticks out to me here is the new friends part. I’ve said for months now that my Ecuadorian friends are the best thing I have here. It’s true. They are the ones who have made my experience and with whom I have my greatest memories abroad. Whether those experiences are playing volleyball, climbing up a volcano, grabbing lunch together, or just sitting and talking in Spanish, my new Ecuadorian friends have been the highlight of it all. I’ve adapted, and I’ve learned how to make it work navigating this different culture for 4 months.
You next accept and embrace cultural differences; you see the host as your new home and don’t wish to depart or leave new friends. I can identify with this stage the least. Yes, it is true that I’ve had a hard time dealing with the fact of likely never seeing these people again once I leave. However, I haven’t experienced the part of that fact compelling me to not want to go back to my home country and stay here instead. I know it definitely happens, as I’ve heard a number of other international students here saying how much they want to stay in Ecuador forever and never go home. As for myself, I’ve kind of jumped to the last step on the culture shock timetable and really experienced how you are excited about returning home. This country has been a great host and has taught me more than I’ve ever learned just living in the U.S. But the States are my home, and my heart and mind are looking forward to coming back and being a part of my country and my people again. For many reasons, I don’t think I’m alone in having that sentiment. Once again, it’s just another normal step in this entire process.
After all of that, and as much of a whirlwind that it can be, there is also this thing that exists called “Reverse Culture Shock.” This part comes into play once you’ve stepped foot again on your home soil and return to your life previous to going abroad. I can’t say I am an expert in these stages quite yet, but I just might be in a few weeks! Although I haven’t been there myself yet, the phases go something like this: 1. You may feel frustrated, angry, or lonely because friends and family don’t understand what you experienced and how you changed. You miss the host culture and friends, and may look for ways to return. 2. You gradually adjust to life at home. Things start to seem more normal and routine again, although not exactly the same. 3. You incorporate what you learned and experienced abroad into your new life and career.
This study abroad experience doesn’t end the moment you step off the plane on your flight back home. It continues. It goes with you and will always be a piece of you. The good and the bad – it is all part of how the experience has helped shape you and remake you.
I’m slowly learning my way around Dakar. The transportation here is crazy. As a health and safety precaution, my program’s studentswere instructed to only take taxis, yet taxis mean bartering for the price in Wolof! This is probably the thing that gives me the most stress in Senegal. The taxi men try to charge me two to three times the normal price. In retrospect it’s about $3 instead of $1.50 for a 15 minute taxi ride, but sometimes I still barter with 3 or 4 taxis before I either get a good price or I decide to walk.School is going well. The French education system is a lot more laid back without a definite plan for each class. I feel as though we go on tangents a lot and I’m never sure if I’m learning the right things. I decided that the key to school is to learn something, anything, and I feel like that is happening. Although, most of the time I wish I wasn’t confined to a classroom. Besides taking five classes, I have an internship helping out at orphanages and schools around Dakar, I’m teaching English two nights a week, and Ihave been involved with church activities for the two young women that live here. Side note about church– We have 3 baptisms this Saturday here in Senegal!!! Woot! My little group of 12 church members has become a home away from home!
Being involved in all of these activities leads to a very busy schedule, and I usually end up leaving my house around 7:30am and getting home around 8:00pm. When I get home, I make sure to talk to my host family for at least an hour or two to show that I appreciate them, and then I pass out under my mosquito net until my 6:30am alarm goes off or I hear the Muslim call to prayer from the mosque down the street at 5:30 in the morning.
This past weekend the program took a vacation to a resort in Toubab Dilaow which is about an hour drive outside of Dakar, on the coast. When I was there, I was able to learn batik- a Senegalese art of dye-ing fabric and painting with hot wax to prevent parts of the fabric from dyeing. I also learned some traditional dancing. We had excellent food and had a great time swimming in the ocean. It was gorgeous!!
One of the things I was most scared about for my study abroad trip was making friends. It sounds so first-grade sometimes, but I really didn’t know how I was going to do it. Especially in another language. However, I have managed to prove myself completely wrong. I have made friends in almost everything that I have done here. In class, playing sports, on the bus, at home, going out, traveling, you name it. It’s been the greatest part of living here. My Ecuadorian friends mean the world to me now. They have taught me way more than I’d ever learn inside a classroom and have begun to inhabit a very special place in my heart.
One friend I’ve made here has taught me something huge about myself that I never knew before. I learned that I actually find so much joy in teaching others. I’ve always known I could be a teacher if I ever wanted to because my entire family consists of teachers, but I never thought I’d enjoy it. However, I’ve recently been shown otherwise. It is obvious that I am in Ecuador right now to learn Spanish; but, a lot of students my age also enjoy the fact that I can help them learn English. At the beginning of the semester, I became part of a diversity club on campus that partners up a native Spanish-speaker with a native English-speaker to have conversations every week. These talks are half in Spanish and half in English so that each partner can have an opportunity to practice their second language and learn from a fluent speaker of that language. It’s a great resource for practice. On top of this opportunity, my closest Ecuadorian friend, Santiago, and I have this friendship where we can ask each other anything and are both more than willing to help the other with whatever they need. For example, whenever I don’t understand a detail of why Ecuadorians use one word over another, I just ask him and he sits down to explain it to me. So, a few days ago, Santiago and I had our first conversation in English. He is a little bit shy, and he hasn’t ever asked me to talk in English with him before because he is still in the beginning stages of learning the language. But that day, we hung out for over an hour speaking in my language for once, and I found such joy in my heart in helping him figure out words he couldn’t understand or expressions he didn’t know; seeing his face light up when something finally clicked in his head was irreplaceable. Teaching him my own language was actually incredible, and I absolutely loved doing it. One of many things that I can add to my list of Things-That-I-Have-Learned-About-Myself-Abroad is my love for teaching those who genuinely want to learn. If it wasn’t for some of my Ecuadorian friendships, I never would have known about this part of me. How cool is that??
Shanghai has a way of making many foreigners feel very special. Everywhere you go people always want to take a picture with you, buy you drinks when you’re out, or attempt to snap a picture of you when you’re not looking. When I’m waiting in a metro stop or an elevator, people always want to practice and develop their English skills as well, sometimes even their Spanish! After a week, stage two of culture shock sneaks up out of nowhere. People keep asking for the same thing over and over, you start to become a bit irritated. Next thing you know, the only thing to do at this point is to blend in with everyone by popping in ear buds and walk with the beat.
A few day of ignoring people as you walk around the city definitely causes a case of homesickness and stage three of culture shock hits you hard. At this point I begin to remember the comforts of home and how I really needed them now. I kept questioning myself as to why can’t I navigate the metro station yet, why can’t you speak Chinese yet, and every other negative thought.
Having more of a positive outlook a few days later, I found a solid group of friends that are from the US, France, Singapore, China and a few other place around the globe. We have done so many things together; without them there would be no way I would have done such crazy things. Busy days are always the best, especially with others. Culture shock becomes a thing of the past, and you finally begin to feel at home.
I think the hardest part of being abroad for me is when one of your friends you have made abroad end up leaving the city for good. With mixed emotions and uncertainty of when you will see them again, this part always puts me back a step within the culture shock. As for now, I will enjoy every moment I have with them and not worry about anything else.