Somehow, I had made it through two months without really experiencing culture shock. In fact, I was starting to think it might not hit me. Maybe I was immune to this feeling, I am a generally positive person so I thought, maybe I will never get to the negative sides of culture shock.
Ha. Was I wrong.
In a weird way, culture shock hit me the hardest immediately following my Halloween Party. I was exhausted and had this embarrassed feeling in my stomach. I didn't really know why but I felt like I hadn't known how to act in the 'party' situation. And my anxious brain didn't help much by activating my everyone thinks I am stupid thought process.
The graphic to the left shows a few of the stages of culture shock, but I know of four specific ones. Medium has a great article describing each of them.
The first stage is the Honeymoon stage. At the start, I sort of thought that I was going to feel like this for the whole 10 months I was going to be here. Ha. But the honeymoon stage was so much fun. I explored Kirovohrad, I became comfortable in my new home, I had new adventures everyday. I woke up smiling and went to bed smiling...except for the days that I woke up late...then I wasn't smiling but I was still elated deep down.
Then the next stage, Frustration. In the above graphic they describe this as irritability but I don't like the negative connotation with this. I am not crabby, mad, or upset about Ukraine or Ukrainian culture. Rather, I am frustrated with myself. I am sick of not understanding how to act in certain situations. I am sick of having to work so hard every time I step out of my house. And I am angry that my Russian isn't coming along faster. I think one way to describe it is that I am tired. This is the stage I am currently in. But it isn't like I am frustrated all day every day. I still have good days and bad moments, I still basically skip home after work most days because I am so happy. But there are just more moments now, than a month ago where I am frustrated with myself and my situation.
Hopefully, the next two stages Adjustment and the Acceptance stages are coming soon. But I am also allowing myself to experience this feeling of culture shock as it comes and goes. I think through my frustration stage, I am beginning to really appreciate home and the things about home that I miss. I am starting to fully understand what it feels like to be in a new place with new people.
I think it is also important for me, that culture shock has not manifested itself in homesickness. As frustrated as I get and as much as I would like it to get easier, I honestly don't have a real desire to come home. And that feeling makes me realize that I actually do really enjoy this country...because even if I am frustrated, I do not want to be anywhere else right now.
I will keep you updated as I hopefully progress :) I am hoping that my next blog will be about my day to day schedule or grocery shopping. I want to give you all more of a feel for what life is like here!