All long-term travelers will experience small bumps on their way.
Culturechock: For me culture chock is a sneaky little thing. It is not like a wall you suddenly walk into when leaving the plane. It is more something you will experience over time.
I always though the Americans were like the Danes. No huge difference, so it should be easy to adapt to the norms. I kind of compared it to china, if I had to live there it would probably be way more difficult to adapt to the society. Guess what, once again I became wiser!
The way Americans think is way different compared to the Danish mindset (in general). How they behave, how they speak and what they do. Culturechock is something that can take months to understand, and even after you have recognized the difference it still affects you. Culture shock tends to move through four different phases: wonder, frustration, depression and acceptance. Due to our complicated little brain each of these stages takes time and you cannot be sure how deeply they will effect you, even the order of the stages can vary
Phase 1: Landing the 1 of January in San Francisco… “WOW this town is soooo beautiful” “look at this…. And look at that.”
“I think San Francisco is my new favorite city.”
Well this phase is also called the honeymoon period, everything is just great and new.
This trip was the best idea ever. !!
Everyone who has been travelling knows that feeling.
Slowly settling into phase 2: Frustration.
– The infrastructure sucks!!! When is the bus coming? Oh nobody knows. Well isn´t that great.
– Why are they bringing their dogs everywhere? some of these dogs a freaking more educated than some people that I know. And Yes I think it is disgusting that your dog is sitting on the table.
– OH so I should eat a Chick-fil-a in order to get a really good meal??? The owner is a gay-hater. But you don´t care right, you’re not gay. Where is your moral???
– Hahahah it is so funny that Arizona almost implemented a law that would give the rights for businesses to deny services to gay and lesbian customers. Really? I think it is some scary business that one of your states was seriously considering that.
– Yes you are number 1 America.. you don´t have to think about recycling and taking care of the environment.
I hope you could feel the irony.:)
Phase 3: So far I had some ups and downs but mostly I enjoyed life in California, experiences cities like Las Vegas and the coastline was how I wanted to live my life. Everything was good and I knew from the beginning that there would also be rainy days in Santa Rosa so my frustrations didn´t last that long. I loved the sunny coast.
What happened next, I did not expect.
One day it just all felt like nothing was going to be good. I could in no possible way stay in California for the rest of this semester. Nothing would ever get better, not before I was on that plane home to Denmark. It took me exactly 63 days to get to this phase. I remember checking Momondo.dk for flights home every 3th hour just in case the tickets had fallen in price.
I spend a lot of time looking at the calendar to find a date, where it would be possible for me to go home without missing to many classes.( at this point I didn´t even care about the money anymore). There was nothing I could do, I just really needed to go home to my family and friends. So what do you do when you are on the edge of falling apart??? You call your mom. ☺
As I remember the conversation It somehow must have looked like this …. First I was quiet.. then I almost had to cry….. suddenly I started to talk very loud in a complaining way… and lastly I cried…. I might even have said something like ” I don´t want to go to Hawaii I just want to go home” ( This is what we in Denmark would call, having a ” temporary brain haemorrhage”)
Frustration can bring on homesickness, but depression adds the dimension of feeling like you just have to get out.
What happened the next day really change something in me. I meet an American girl with whom I actually had a real conversation compared to the usual conversations that includes the mandatory “ how are you” question.
Every beginning is hard. I knew that. But missing my friends and my social life back home I really needed this experience, also if it only would last for one day.
It made me realize that we all have an impact on other lives more than we might be aware of. Remember a smile or a “Hi” can change somebody´s day from being the worst to become the best.
The last phase is the acceptance phase. It is kind of having a home away from home.
I like my room here in California and I like my college, it is really great. I also love my lifestyle, since I have a lot of time to do workout, running in the sun and climbing the walls. All my travels are filling me with energy and experiences I wouldn´t switch for anything in the world. I will miss California when I am going back home in a few months and I will definitely come back some day.