Sunday, 6 April 2014

time changes everything

It has been a really rich and good time thus far for me here in Europe. I have lived in the USA for the best part of three years, on and off a little, and I still have moment of extreme culture shock. Strangely enough the culture shock has been most intense over the past couple of months. Every time it arises, it surprises me and scares me. Just one too many "Oh you are Australian" jokes and one too many, "Do you know the Queen?" comments I was right back there: experiencing culture shock.

Culture shock is something that only people who have experiences living abroad can understand. It allows me to meet a German or Chinese student, also living in the USA, and be able to feel more connected with them for a moment that I feel with any of my American friends that I have seen every day for the past couple of years.

When people ask me to explain culture shock, all I can say is that, "it is awkward". I can be in the middle of a stats class at University, or sipping a coffee at Whole Foods or cycling across downtown and all of a sudden I will feel like I do not belong here; in this moment, I am not from here and I do not fit in. It is a bizarre and very overwhelming feeling.

Returning to The Netherlands was a wonderful trip down memory lane for me. However, it also allowed me closure to my fears that I was wrong to move to the USA after just one year of University there. I was able to walk the streets of beautiful Middelburg and know that it is not my home. My heart is not is in Boise.

Time changes everything - it changes friendships and it changes hearts and it changes character. I was able to pick up some Dutch friendships like nothing had changed during the two years that I was away, whilst others just simply were no long there. I am learning that time changes things: it allows healing to take place and it allows love to grow deeper and stronger. I am trying to not fear this, but to just accept that things change and that is ok.


Julia H. said...

I really know what you mean. It is a scary feeling not knowing when and how quickly things change. I have been there before and I am experiencing change at the very moment. But it's not because of others but mainly because oneself changes in that one grows - and that's a good thing.

Anonymous said...

I just stumbled upon your blog and this entry. I'm having such similar experiences at the moment and like you say they can feel overwhelming. I feel like I have changed so much that places and especially people that gave me the feeling of home for many years before do not do that anymore. It scares me sometimes but at the same time it opens up new doors and a chance to experience something new. To let go of holding onto things/people. To embrace the present moment and not get sentimental about what is over. Lovely blog post, Sally.

I wish you all the best,
Claudia (who you've briefly met in Middelburg when we shared the same floor)