Culture Shock

February 21, 2010

I’ve had a lot of people ask me how I’m coping with living in a different country.

I’m happy to say that since residing in the CZ going onto my 4th week now, I’m adapting quite well. It hasn’t been very shocking (we’ve talked a lot about culture shock since we’ve been here with my program) to me at all to go from living on the West Coast of the USA to a Central European country. I credit this largely to my well-traveled past, as I’ve been to Europe many times and have experienced its culture and lifestyle before my move here this semester. I know a lot of my friends here in Prague are struggling with homesickness and possibly even minor forms of culture shock, but for the most part I’ve been doing really well and have largely been excited about experiencing EVERYTHING I can.

Of course I’m homesick in some ways, but as I go to school 1800 miles away from San Diego anyway, this is relatively normal to me, which may seem bizarre to some of you. This isn’t to say that I’m not experiencing any homesickness. I miss my family (and my puppy! I miss you, Misty!) but it’s even weirder for me in some ways, honestly, to be away from my Puget Sound friends. They’ve been my new family for almost 3 years now, some of them, and I really don’t even sleep very well when I’m not around people I feel safe with. It’s sort of random, but that’s how I can really gauge my comfort level.

I miss waking up in my house in Tacoma on Saturdays and going to the SUB at 11am with my housemates and eating waffles while watching all the hungover students exchange stories about the night before. I miss going to the Met and getting tiger chais with Laura, Marissa, Natasha, and Serwaah. I miss going to the Rosewood and Alpha Phi. This weekend was especially hard because I just became a Grandbig to the lovely Monica, and I haven’t even met her yet!

But honestly, the hardest thing is dealing with the fact that life is going on in both San Diego and Tacoma without me. My friends’ lives are changing while I’m away. I’m trying really hard to stay caught up on all the “gossip” and what’s been going on so when I come back to Tacoma in the summer, I won’t be shocked. But I still wish that I could somehow put my friends’ lives on “pause” while I’m off romping around Europe.

On a lighter note, what little things do I miss the most other than people?
Oreos, Kraft mac’n’cheese, an oven, cheeseburgers, Mexican food and California burritos (oh my godddd I miss them so much), Misty May, all my clothes that I didn’t bring with me, the Pacific Ocean, listening to NPR, restaurants and stores that stay open 24 hours, Hulu, high customer service standards, no-smoking rules (I have one pair of leggings I ONLY wear when I’m going out to clubs since they smell so awful of wet smoke), and DRIVING!!

I know that I’ve been given an amazing opportunity to study in a different country. I have an amazing program, AIFS, that supports me in nearly every way that I can imagine while I’m abroad. I’ve made some fantastic friends that I can’t possibly fathom living without once these four months are over. I’m constantly excited about exploring this city and finding new nooks and crannies every day. I’ve already fallen in love with Praha, and count living here as “home”. I’m in nearly constant contact with my family and closest friends (except Becca, but she has a legit excuse of a broken computer) thanks to my obsession with Skype. I’m determined to make the most of these 4 months, and those who know me well know that I won’t let anything hold me back.

But now it’s almost 3am, and I’m going to get into my bed in my kolej, and get a good night’s sleep, because I’m surrounded by good friends, and tomorrow I have a busy day of adventuring in Prague. 🙂

listening to:  “horchata”, vampire weekend