Sunday, June 17, 2012

Stream of Consciousness Sunday - Culture shock is a strange beast


Tonight I was talking with a friend about life in Germany and said to him, "culture shock is a strange beast" and so goes the title of this post. Well, here it is. The second stage of culture shock. Yep, it's called the "Negotiation stage" where everything that is different suddenly seems very different. Things that seemed cute at first suddenly become irritating. You get homesick, frustrated and upset more easily and find yourself shutting people out at times. It's like the stages of grief in that you don't always feel everything in the exact order that they predict and you often have mini stages of all of them at times. Also, everyone experiences culture shock to varying degrees. I know I still love Germany and all the wonderful things I have experienced so far are still clear in my mind, but I have felt the reality of living here, of living abroad, of being far from the comforts of home, of feeling like I'm not making progress in my new language...all of it feels like it's in my face right now. I almost feel like I want to give up on speaking German because every time I do someone either corrects me or laughs. I want the language to be easier. I want to be able to talk to anyone about anything. I want to connect. I know I'm lucky because so many people speak my language here and there are so many great expats that I am friends with already, which helps a lot, but it is hard to feel like you are on the outside of a culture and that you can't communicate what you really want to say. I know I will not give up on German and that eventually I will see the progress I've made, but it's just one of those days, one of those weeks. It's the negotiation phase. Next stop - the adjustment phase. Really hope I don't have to wait six months for that one like Wikipedia tells me....;)



This was my 5 minute Stream of Consciousness Sunday post. It’s five minutes of your time and a brain dump. Want to try it? Here are the rules…

1. Set a timer and write for 5 minutes.
2. Write an intro to the post if you want but don’t edit the post. No proofreading or spellchecking. This is writing in the raw.
3. Publish it somewhere. Anywhere. The back door to your blog if you want. But make it accessible.
4. Add the Stream of Consciousness Sunday badge to your post.
5. Link up your post. 6. Visit your fellow bloggers and show some love.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Stream of Consciousness Sunday - Old habits die hard


One of the things that many travelers hope for is a renewal of self when we move to another country. We hope that somehow, magically we will shed all things old and become all things new. This is true to some extent, but in the past week or two I've been reminded that old habits die hard. That in order to reinvent yourself you have to work hard at it. It's anything but magic. The magic comes from having the guts to be out of your comfort zone and somewhere new and experiencing those travel moments where everything is new and exciting and special. But, since I started working full time again a few weeks ago I have been going non-stop and suddenly I realized - I have just the slightest tendency (okay maybe a big one) to overdo it. Last week in my Sunday post I talked about balancing work and life. This is sort of a continuation of this theme. Somehow I think I can do everything and still take care of myself. I just love so many things, I love people, I want to give my all to all of it. I want to be good (or even great) at everything I do. I want to be the perfect friend, the perfect girlfriend, the best blogger, the perfect aunt, the best market research decoder (my latest new job), the best English teacher etc. etc. But you know what? You can't do it all. Or at least you can't do it all and not completely crash at some point. You can't make everyone happy either. You gotta make you happy. You have to be okay with saying no to things, disappointing people, letting a few things go. It's okay. Just always remember, "Wherever you go, there you are."



This was my 5 minute Stream of Consciousness Sunday post. It’s five minutes of your time and a brain dump. Want to try it? Here are the rules…

1. Set a timer and write for 5 minutes.
2. Write an intro to the post if you want but don’t edit the post. No proofreading or spellchecking. This is writing in the raw.
3. Publish it somewhere. Anywhere. The back door to your blog if you want. But make it accessible.
4. Add the Stream of Consciousness Sunday badge to your post.
5. Link up your post. 6. Visit your fellow bloggers and show some love.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Sunday Stream of Consciousness: Work - how do we find that perfect balance in life?


So for two weeks now I've been back to the 9-5(ish) working life and I have to say I have mixed feelings about it all. I've been thinking about work a lot lately, what I want to do in that area, what structure makes me happy, how we balance work and life and still do everything we hope to do. There is something about working in a foreign country when you're there for the experience that definitely makes work more enjoyable. It becomes a cultural experience as well, it doesn't feel so....serious somehow even though I still work just as hard as I do back home. I'm lucky enough to be working with a very nice group of expats and that makes it a lot of fun, but suddenly having my days structured, my free time taken after a wonderful three month break has been challenging. How are people supposed to balance it all? How do they do it? I don't even have a partner or kids to worry about and yet I never seem to have the time I need to get everything done. And I want to do so much. I want to be blogging so much more. I want to keep traveling tons and blogging about these travels. I want to be improving my photography skills. I want to finish writing the novel I started. I want to cook wonderful creative and healthy meals every night and try new recipes all the time. I want to work out every day and join a sports team. I want to play my saxophone in a band again. I want to keep teaching English as well as working for a market research company during the day, plus take on private students and also study German intensively. I want to spend time with people. I want to get to know Hamburg much better. I want to talk to people back home and write to them consistently. I want to volunteer for a worthy cause. I want to climb mountains. I want to ski. I want to run a half marathon. Phew....I'm exhausted just writing this all. I love so many things in life. I have many passions and many things that are important to me. So when I come home from a day of work and German class and I'm exhausted and can just barely find some food and then collapse for a few hours and I don't get any more done, I feel mad at myself. But then, this is life. You can only do so much. What is the answer to all this? What is the magical balance?
This was my 5 minute Stream of Consciousness Sunday post. It’s five minutes of your time and a brain dump. Want to try it? Here are the rules…

1. Set a timer and write for 5 minutes.
2. Write an intro to the post if you want but don’t edit the post. No proofreading or spellchecking. This is writing in the raw.
3. Publish it somewhere. Anywhere. The back door to your blog if you want. But make it accessible.
4. Add the Stream of Consciousness Sunday badge to your post.
5. Link up your post. 6. Visit your fellow bloggers and show some love.