Throughout this I have been through the different stages (minus the final stage of adjustment) but what has surprised me is how the process can all of the sudden start again or jump from good to bad and back to good and sometimes all in the same day. I wish I could say that it is getting easier and in many ways it is but then you can have a couple of stuff throw you for a loop and you are ready to catch the next plane out of here. I have never experienced such wonderful highs and such lows so frequently. It truly is a roller coaster of emotions. This has truly been one of the hardest things I have done and many days I just wish we were past this (or never came) but I know that there is a purpose and I know that it will be good...I just have to be patient.
Here are the stages per John Hamilton....
1) Dread. This is when you are still at home and have to face the prospect of sorting, purging, organizing, packing. It’s powerful.
2) Freneticism. This is when you make lists of all the things you need to do – closing bank accounts, buying that stuff you know you will be more expensive in your overseas home, seeing friends, having parties…
3) Planning. An offshoot of freneticism but different. Still done before you move. It involves making lists of things you have to do when you arrive in the new place.
4) Waiting. Everything’s done. You’ve said goodbye to everyone [sometimes twice]. Now what? It’s like being bored – but with an edge. You can’t relax because soon you are going to get on a plane.
5) Euphoria. The honeymoon phase. When you arrive, you see the differences between the old and new culture in a romantic light. Some website says: “… an individual might love the new foods, the pace of the life, the people’s habits, the buildings and so on. During the first few weeks most people are fascinated by the new culture. They associate with the nationals that speak their language and are polite to foreigners. This period is full of observations and new discoveries. Like many honeymoons this stage eventually ends…”.
6) Negotiation. Now we’re getting theoretical. “The differences between the old and new culture become apparent and may create anxiety. That sense of excitement will eventually give way to new and unpleasant feelings of frustration and anger as one continues to have unfavorable encounters that strike you as strange, offensive, and unacceptable. These reactions are typically centered around the formidable language barrier as well as stark differences in public hygiene, traffic safety, and the type and quality of the food. One may long for familiar food, may find the pace of life too fast or slow, may find the people’s habits annoying, disgusting, or irritating. This phase is often marked by mood swings without apparent reason. Excitement turns to disappointment. Depression is not uncommon.”
7) Adjustment. They tell me that: “… after some time (usually 6 – 12 months), one grows accustomed to the new culture and develops routines. One knows what to expect in most situations and the host country no longer feels all that new. One becomes concerned with basic living again, and things become more “normal”.I would probably add another stage right around Euphoria...a little bit before and after when you experience intense culture shock....when you realize that as much as you knew things would be different and you thought you could accept it, nothing really could have prepared you for this change and different lifestyle/views/religion/culture BUT you’re here.. you’re really not sure if you love it or hate it yet.. and often times you think, “oh my gosh, what have we done!?”
Pretty much I am hovering between culture shock/negotiation. Most days it feels like we have been here forever and are getting used to our "new reality." I think I am doing fine and then someone at coffee will ask if I am doing alright because I don't seem myself and I will break down crying (thankfully that happened outside as I was getting the kids in the car so it wasn't in front of lots of people).
I want our stuff so badly. I want to feel like this home and not a temporary house. I feel like because it doesn't feel like home I don't have that mindset that I have to get through the tough parts and that I can just leave. It feels temporary but yet I know it isn't....it is weird.
I MISS my family, friends and being a part of everyone's lives back home. It feels like our world/life has been thrown upside down and we miss everyone so much but yet their lives are continuing, they are doing fine and you wonder if they even notice you are gone (I know that our family and friends do miss us but it is part of the mind games that moving plays on you).
I want to be settled, I want to be able to get a car so we have a little more freedom and not feel so confined and restricted but that also means we really live here. See....lots of flip flopping and ups and downs.
Truly I can see us being happy here someday. I can see the possibilities. I am happy that John loves his job, is finding success and recognition and that he is less stressed, home a bunch and we are relishing in the abundant family time. I hold on to those positive moments and pray hard that they hold me through the lows.