When you go to live abroad for any period of time people always warn you about culture shock. They tell you it’s normal. They tell you that everyone experiences it to some degree. What they don’t tell you is that it’s the big picture that does it. No, it’s all the little things that pile up and overcome you.
My first real encounter was the day I got locked inside of my apartment. You see, my host family had left in a hurry while I was taking a nap. No big deal, that is until I tried to leave. It was simply beyond me on how to get the door open. And then I made the hilarious mistake of asking my friends for help.
Help I think I’m an idiot, was my cry for assistance. Of course this was like day three and I hardly knew any of my classmates. But we already shared that bond of similarly minded people who find themselves in a difficult situation. So I did trust them, even though they were absolutely no help. Somehow we finally established that the way it was locked meant that it could not be unlocked from the inside. God must have run out of engineers when he got to Spain. This bummer because I was supposed to be leaving to meet up with said friends. The next solution boldly offered was to go out the window.
I replied that the option didn’t look good seeing as I was on the fourth floor. At this point the overwhelming sensation of living in another country really set. Along with a touch of claustrophobia and the rationale of needing serious help. So with the all important aid of google translate I texted my host dad. Realizing what happened, he rushed home unlocked the door and explained how it had been mistakenly locked fully. About this time there was a firetruck circling the neighborhood. And my well meaning comrades began to blow up my phone again wondering if I had resulted to evacuation. Thank God there was no fire.
This wasn’t the only time I’ve been hit hard with culture shock. And I’m sure it’ll happen again. It comes and goes in spurts, the trick is knowing what will set it off next time. Because it’s not the big things that get us, it’s the little differences we encounter while simply trying to live.
Peace, Love, and Happiness…