Right now, today, I hate Chile. I hate Santiago. I want to go HOME.
Welcome to culture shock.
Santiago is actually not that different from home. Sure, there are some subtle differences, and a few big ones, but mostly it’s comfortable and not drastically different from the US. But I am still experiencing a bit of culture shock. (It could be because it’s now winter here and it is summer back home. I’m actually quite convinced that is a big part of it.)
For anyone who has never lived abroad before, culture shock happens to most of us when we live in a foreign country. And it’s not always negative like it sounds. There is a natural ‘W’ shape wave of emotions we go through. It starts quite high when we first arrive in the foreign country. We’re excited for this big adventure. Everything is new and exciting. Annoying quirks aren’t annoying yet. They’re just different and maybe funny or cool. This can last a few weeks to a few months. For everyone it is different.
Then comes the adjusting phase. Things start to settle back down to middle-ground and you start to feel comfortable. You’re not as excited as you were before and things just aren’t as new anymore. You kinda start to feel ‘at home.’
I’m at phase 3. The I-hate-everything-about-this-place phase. You become very negative toward your new country. The quirky things you noticed when you first arrived aren’t cute or funny anymore. They’re ANNOYING. The littlest things can piss you off. You have more bad days than you’d like. You miss home. And some days you just want to leave. For most people, this phase will pass. I remember going through it in France, and it did eventually go away. I’m hoping it goes away here in Chile too. The difference is, when I lived in France I think I was more excited and more in love with it there than I have been here in Chile. I don’t know if it’s because this isn’t as ‘new’ of an experience for me. Or if it’s because I’m working and not living a carefree life like I did in France. Or if it’s just because France is more ‘me’ than Chile is. This is not a fun phase to be in though. It’s really tough. You question what you’re doing here. Sometimes you can’t find enough reasons to stay.
But the only thing you can really do is keep chugging along. I can’t really go home. Well, I mean, sure I could, but once I got home I know I would regret giving up. I would know that I didn’t really give it ‘my all.’ I wouldn’t have achieved everything I wanted to yet. I would miss Cadu. There are also things I’m looking forward to at the end of the year and I would just hate to go home and miss out on all of them.
So I’m going to muddle through this ugly phase of culture shock and await the ‘phew!-I-made-it’ phase where things start to be comfortable again and I start to find things I truly love about this country and culture. I just need to make it through the winter. Once September comes, I am in the clear.