Was reading a simplified article about experiencing culture shock here. It basically simplifies the term ‘culture shock’ coined by by Kalvero Oberg. In his research Oberg classified the immigration phenomena into 5 distinct stages of culture shock.
**italics are my experiences**
** BOLD are the 5 stages that Oberg identified**
1) Honeymoon phrase
– You just came and everything is super awesome! American junk food, American TV, super fast internet!
– amazon! best invention ever!
– pizza by the slice! awesome!
– outlet shopping FTW!!!!
– The 4 seasons rock, I love having different clothes for different seasons
– New York is amazing! Never in my life would I think that I am living in an apartment overlooking the Hudson River staring at the statue of liberty!
– I cannot wait to explore the rest of the United States!
– Central Park! Ohhhhh so romantic. It’s so oppressively hot in Singapore I never sit in parks. Oooohh Prospect park, so nice! Little babies and dogs all running around!
– I love autumn and the pretty leaves! I don’t get that in Singapore
2) Rejection phrase (my current phase)
– Why is the bloody USA still using the damn imperial system! Every civilized country in this world uses the metric system! C’mon get a move on!
– I refuse to pay 4 times the mobile carrier fees for 1/4 the service I used to get in Singapore.
– Why don’t they understand me when I ask where’s the toilet!
– Why do they all spell without a ‘U’
– Its pronounced ‘Zag’ not Zeeeee.
– Its spelt with a ‘S’ not a ‘Z’, you mean you went to NYU without learning how to spell!!!!!!
– Why do they spend 6 million on presidential elections? It’s so damn ridiculous!
– Why do they drink so much?
– Winter sucks! I miss the heat
– There are NO HURRICANES in Singapore!
– The income inequality in the USA makes me want to BARF!
– A one bedroom apartment in Manhattan costs at 2 million? Why did we move here again? Wasn’t it to avoid buying a 1 million dollar condo (2 bedrooms) in Singapore?
3) Regression phrase
4) Recovery phrase
5) Reverse culture shock phrase (If I move back to Singapore)
I exaggerate a little and dramatize a little, but sometimes I really feel exasperated in this new place. It’s a city technically like the one I grew up in! So why is it so different all at once??
Kris says that he felt the same way about Singapore too. My long-standing argument is that after 2-3 years, he was STILL in stage 2 and offered me an option to move somewhere else. I feel like I took it without much careful thought. (I don’t regret it tho)
Anyways, eventually (and I stress EVENTUALLY because it takes so goddamn long to get a visa, even without being thoroughly screwed over by an incompetent piece of crap lawyer) I’ll get a conditional green card for 2 years and then we’ll decide if Singapore or America is where we want to end up.
Don’t get me wrong, I do not dislike this place , but I’m in stage 2 and sometimes its hard. I miss home, my family, friends, my oh-so-adorable-nephew and the familiarity of home. This long and excruciating visa process has not made it easier either, till I get my GREEN card, which is probably around October 2013. I would have endured a 1.5 years waiting period, in the grand scheme of things might not be much, but sometimes, it feels like eternity to me. When people tell me I’m so lucky that I get to do nothing, I sometimes feel like slapping their faces because there is nothing lucky about having your life put at a standstill because the stupid government agencies are so incompetent. There is nothing lucky about being a parasite and not actually working! I’m not sure why I’m so obsessed with work, I highly suspect that it’s the indoctrination that I have been brainwashed into.
My culture believes in the important of hard work and getting a degree and getting an awesome job, then raising awesome kids and growing old awesomely. All done while you become a digit in the work place all for the ‘progress of the nation’. (I’m being sarcastic just in case my brand of humor doesn’t sit well with you)
I do not slap their faces in the end because its socially unacceptable :P, but more importantly I know that what they say is true. After all, you look at a glass half full or empty depending on what you choose to focus on.
All things considered, I know I’m very lucky. We’re able to fly back and forth a lot, true it might be financially taxing, but at least I’m offered a choice. I/We have saved enough/are earning enough for me to be not working for almost 1.5 years and be financially okay.
I literally can do whatever I want, when I want to. I got to spend 2.5 months seeing my nephew every single day and watching him grow from a little sleeping peanut to one that gurgles and smiles and grabs my finger with his teeny wheeny hands and holds his neck up during tummy time. (EXCUSE ME while I have a PROUD AUNTIE moment!). Because of this long wait, I get time to take a break, watch beautiful sunsets, read, walk, breathe and enjoy all that life has to offer. I don’t have a stable nesting ground in 1 place, but at least I have the generosity of family in Singapore to let me stay for as long as I need too. If you look at the cup half full, you will realize that hey, I don’t pay rent in the 2 most expensive cities in the world and I am able to live in 2 very shiny buildings as a fully welcomed house guest! hee hee.
Honestly, has been a difficult time for our relationship, not so much that we argued a lot but rather having to deal with missing each other a lot. Some couples can spend extended periods of time apart, but it was hard for us. But now, we’re really close to the finishing line and I know this experience has deepened our love for each other. I would love to say that it has made me even more sure of Kris, but realistically I was already very sure of him the moment I said yes to his proposal. I think when you agree to marry someone, you MUST and most certainty be sure that he/she is the person you’re going to spend the rest of your life with. I can say with all the conviction that there is nobody else in the world, I would go through this process with (again if I had to) except for Kris. I love him very much and I know we’ll be very happy together for the rest of our lives! Doesn’t matter what city we’re in!
I’ve droned on for quite a bit, but Paul Watkins in ‘Stand Before Your God’ somewhat echoes how I feel about this process:
“Sometimes I felt sorry for myself, with this feeling of no solid ground that I could say belonged to me. But other times I was glad, because I got to see both countries for what they really were. You had to go away from a place to know what it was you took for granted in the land you left behind.”
It has been difficult at times, but if I went back to Jan 2012, I would still make the same choice, after all as Theodore Roosevelt puts it succinctly, ‘
“Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.”