Friday, October 17, 2008

Cultural Adjustment

This week I felt like I moved into the best phase of culture shock - adjustment. This is the time that life in a new culture begins to feel almost like home - with good days and bad days. It is different from that time at the beginning when everything is exciting, and not the same as that time when everything is really difficult. I like the adjustment phase.

Today I went to the supermarket and felt very comfortable there. I didn't feel stressed out that I would not understand the questions the cashier was going to ask me. I wasn't frustrated that I couldn't find the things I was looking for. I didn't get upset because the lines were really long and moving slowly. Everything seemed normal for me and I felt very comfortable.

I'm also feeling comfortable on the street with the broken sidewalks and people blowing smoke in my face and all of the traffic and noise and dog poop and everything else. Today when I left my Arabic class and walked out on to the street at the end of rush hour, I felt the excitement of being in a city with so much energy. I was glad to get home to the quiet of my apartment, but I also enjoyed being out on the street with everyone else.

I think cultural adjustment is a difficult thing. I don't know if I will ever be fully adjusted to life here in Argentina. I think there will always be things that I miss about my home and things that I don't understand here. For example, I won't take the bus because I need to have change. The smallest bill here is a 2 peso bill. But the bus costs 90 centavos. So, to take the bus, you either need 90 centavos in exact change or you need a 1 peso coin. But nobody has change! In the cafeteria at my school they have a sign on the cash register that says "no coins". Because so many people need coins for the bus, it is almost impossible to find them.

I think this is crazy. I don't understand why they just don't sell bus passes. Some people take the same bus every day. It would make so much sense to just sell regular bus riders a bus pass every month, like our Fast Pass in San Francisco. So, because I think it is stupid that you need change for the bus, I walk or take the subway or a taxi!

On the other hand, there are things I like about living here that I know I will miss when I get back to San Francisco. A friend of mine who lives in Victoria, Canada, just sent me an article she wrote about reverse culture shock. This is what happens when you return to your native country. I was glad she reminded me about it, because I want to continue my blog after I am back in San Francisco so I can write about what happens when I come back.

Culture shock can be difficult sometimes, but in the end, I think it is a positive thing and I think makes our lives much more interesting!

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