Friday, May 15, 2009

Waiting for the Other Shoe to Drop

When we decided to move to Sydney I started reading about culture shock. I wanted to be prepared to deal with the inevitable roller coaster of emotions that most expats describe. Here's what I learned (or learnt if you're Aussie):

There are 5 Stages of Culture Shock
1. The Honeymoon.
Everything is exciting, it feels like you're on vacation.
2. Distress Stage.
Everything is confusing, and you don't have your support system to fall back on.
3. Re-integration Stage.
You feel angry, hostile, and frustrated and idealize life back home. You reject the new culture as inferior.
4. Autonomy Stage.
You start to feel like yourself again, have more confidence, and no longer feel isolated.
5. Independence.
Embracing the new culture and everything in it, you start to feel at home.

I think I am on an extended honeymoon. I love it here. We live in a beautiful place and have met many lovely people. We've found a school for our daughter and a church for our family. And while I miss our dear friends and family members back home, the truth is, I am happy here. There has not been one day when I felt that coming here was a mistake.

I'm not so bold to believe that I am immune to the effects of culture shock. So I am waiting for the other shoe to drop. We've been here for a bit over 2 months. How long can the honeymoon last?


Erin said...

What a great post Jenny! I am SO glad that your experience has been so good thur far. It is wonderful to see you embracing this experience and running with it. I think I've experienced every level of culture shock, but stretched out over the course of many years. I think it is different for everyone so your extended honeymoon phase could last for a very long time. I hope that's the case! :-)

Anonymous said...

I love this too..and think people must go through the stages in their own time. This is the first time I have seen the stages, it is amazing how "spot-on" they are. Stage 3 in particular, I feel often (think: lack of customer service, etc)
I am glad that you are enjoying yourself, who's to say we have to ever leave the honeymoon phase?

Florida Girl In Sydney said...

You go girl with your bad ass happy self.

I think it's also a big help to know you're only here for a couple of years-- that surely makes it easier to feel like you're on a very, very long vacation... you kind of are.

Mama Bird said...

Just found your blog...having fun looking around. I don't think I ever left the honeymoon phase in the nearly 3 years I lived in Brisbane. I loved it and cried a lot when and after we left. I still want to go back sometimes...still torn between two countries.

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