Oct 29, 2006

In Which I Begin an Experiment

I've heard from multiple sources that there's a common psychological reaction to travelling and living abroad. Apparently the first few weeks are a totaly honeymoon period, wherein everything seems shiny and new, there's lots of wonderment and awe-struckness, and all that sort of gaping gradiosity. Then, there's a sort of crash after about three weeks or a month or so, where the person becomes horribly homesick, gets really depressed, thinks that everything sucks, and becomes really, really hostile to their host country. After that, things equalize and stuff's normal.
Now, I'm curious to if this is going to happen to me. More to the point, I'm wondering that if I'm cognizant of the process, that will change the process. Thus far, I haven't been in much of a honeymoon period- I've so far just tried to acclimate myself to my job and catch up on sleep. Also, I seem more bewildered than anything.
But- watch this space for my potential wild mood swings! Who knows, maybe I'll start getting way over enthusiastic about things. Or maybe I'll get totally emo. Who knows? It'll be awesome.


Kristin said...

It will be awesome... In a fun, scary, outrageous, exhilarating, sometimes sad, sometimes totally f*cking awesome sort of way. Take care.

Sydney said...

In my experience, knowing about culture shock can actually make it worse because you think you're protected. When I lived in France, I didn't have much of a honeymoon period because I was too cool and totally knew what to expect. I was like, just there to live, man. But the homesickness hit me just as hard as it hit anyone. The difference that knowing it's coming makes is all in how you choose to deal with it. I called home daily just to chat for a couple of minutes, bought a jar of peanut butter, and concentrated on what I loved about France all while trying to ignore what I hated (my roommate, not knowing what to do if I got sick, being exhausted all the time from having to constantly translate everything around me). And then, at the homesickness peak, I went and visited Germany, and then it was gone. It reset my brain into Travel & New Experience Mode. And by the time I got back to Lyon, that was home and it felt like it! So that's my advice: when you start to feel homesick, reach out to home without forgetting why you came to Japan in the first place. And if you get to a point where you start to feel dispair or everything gets you down, take a little overnight trip to Tokyo or Kyoto or somewhere and be the gaijin tourist you were born to be!