Living in Greece, Travel

The Beginnings of Culture Shock

This morning I was in a bad mood.  I felt sickness twisting in my stomach and I was just annoyed by everyone, and no, I am nowhere near being on my period.  Instead, I was suffering from….CULTURE SHOCK.

Everything was wrong.  Nothing was familiar.  I made a list of all the things I miss about the United States:

  • being able to read street signs
  • knowing where to buy a straightener
  • TFC’s worship service
  • Eatzi’s salads
  • being able to watch current TV shows on Hulu
  • Target
  • Rory, my cat
  • speaking quickly
  • libraries
  • knowing that Old Navy is guaranteed to have pants that fit me
  • lots of restaurants with various ethnic foods

As I am very slowly learning, talking about your problems can make them seem more manageable (being a counselor means advising people to do things you are only barely able to do yourself).  So during our break at Greek class, Emi, Elvira, Nir and I sat on the roof to drink tea in the sun.  

“This is the first time I’ve interacted with people in three days,” Elvira said.

“That sounds really nice,” I said, accidentally.

“What do you mean?” she asked.

“I’m just tired,” I half-lied.  Then I decided to go for it.  “Actually, I think I’m hitting that stage where I really miss the familiar.  Everything is different, and instead of that being exciting, I’m annoyed.”

Everyone nodded.  Nir said, “It is a phase.  You will pass through it.”

Elvira said, “Is there anything we can help with?”

“No.  Actually, yes!  Where can I buy shoes?  There are so many stores, but I don’t know which are worth checking out.”

They gave me some suggestions, and then we started talking about ISIS and the morality of violence.  I felt so much better!  First because these were people from all over the world living in Greece as foreigners who had gone through the exact same thing.  Second because they did what they could to help me.  Third because we jumped into a deeply philosophical conversation that got all my introverted cylinders firing.

I’ll probably be annoyed/culture-shocked again.  If I remember correctly, this phase lasted three or four weeks in Senegal.  But I have some people who will help me (non-Greeks feel necessary, because I don’t want to complain about a country to its people, especially since I know these aren’t REAL complaints, just me feeling uncomfortable), AND in less than a month I will have my first visitor!  Then I will be the knowledgeable one, showing off my new home to someone else, and (if it’s anything like my experience in Senegal) it will herald a new season of “THIS IS MY CITY AND IT’S AWESOME.”

Until then, rooftops conversations with new friends.

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