another expat post about culture shock

yesterday, Husband came home from orientation with a pamphlet on culture shock. I rolled my eyes a little bit. I mean - this is our fourth time arriving in Taiwan as expats. we should have this culture shock thing down, right?


for expats like us, who go back to their home country every summer, the cycle just keeps repeating. we've become adjusted to Taiwan - time to head to the US for summer. the honeymoon rush of bacon and kittens and family is soon replaced by the disorientation of all that has changed in barely a year's time. and by the time we adjust - if there's even time to adjust - we are back on a plane to Taiwan and head-first into honeymoon phase again. this time it's a new neighborhood [oh, look at those mountains] and meeting new friends, hopes and dreams so fresh they are still sparkling.

but I'm also wary of the dip that's lurking around the corner. instead of becoming immune to culture shock, I think I've come to experience it at an accelerated rate. and I know the honeymoon phase doesn't last forever.

settling into a new place takes time. you have to unpack all the boxes. figure out how to recycle said boxes. arrange and re-arrange the furniture. designate which storage areas are for what, organize your kitchen cabinets so that it makes sense, and decide what else you need to buy so your home can be functional. this all takes time - time that you'd rather use exploring your new neighborhood and making new friends. or really, doing anything but breaking down yet another cardboard box.

you want to know the truth about moving? it sucks.

I'm talking the third-of-four trips to IKEA where you don't bring enough cash and your husband has the bank card so you have to leave half of your items at the register kind of sucks. the I can't even fit all this stuff in my bags to carry it out the door - let alone on the subway home - kind of sucks. the kind that ends with crying on the street, trying to remember where you put the business card of the mall near your house, because you don't know enough Chinese and your apartment address is a mysterious combination of road, lane, and alley numbers but no actual building designation that you can seem to understand.

I got home fine and have since figured out our address... I think. [and no that's not it above, but a nice example of a few of the street signs around here.] but that moment is a prime example of everything that's been life for the past few weeks: jet lag, culture shock, moving woes, thinking I know what I'm doing and finding I don't.

I've been trying to get things settled so we can work our way into "normal" life. but today I gave up and left my unpacked suitcases on the floor. I grabbed my camera and walked and walked and acquainted myself with a few of the neighborhood dragons.

I was drenched in sweat from pretty much the moment I walked out the door. hello, August in Taiwan. but since I was already sweating I figured I should just keep going. according to my fitbit I went almost 6 miles before stopping for lunch and grabbing a bus back home. so what if I still have suitcases left to unpack? dragons are way more fun than suitcases.

besides, there's a typhoon headed our way and I'll have plenty of time to unpack this weekend.

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