The Loneliness of Culture Shock

I’ve been emailing with a friend of mine who is serving as a missionary.  I asked her how she was doing with homesickness and culture shock, and she wrote back about loneliness. In particular, she wrote one sentence that really resonated with me:  “My most understanding Arab friend thinks in ways that are worlds apart from me.”

This idea, that the very foundation of how we think affects the way we can relate to others, helped me clarify many of my own feelings of culture shock.  I am in a more Western country than my friend, but even in Greece, there is a slow loneliness that comes from representing your nationality by yourself.  Continue reading

Leaving Friends

During my last semester in college, I shrank away from friends and became an almost-recluse.  I was anticipating leaving the people I loved, and the fearful part of myself thought it would hurt less if I left them emotionally before I left them physically.  Thankfully, my best friend called me out on my actions and made me aware of the fact that, although it might help me, it was hurting her.

In the last ten years, I have moved five times (I’m jumping forward to include my move to Greece in a few months).  Each time I left people that I loved deeply and considered family.  There is still a part of me that wants to avoid getting close to people for fear of inevitably being separated.  But I’ve learned that there is a particular kind of bravery that allows a person to keep opening their heart to joy and pain.  I’ve learned that I want to fling myself into loving people, experiencing the heights of friendships and depths of loneliness.  Continue reading