Thursday, 5 August 2010

Back to the States!!!!

The last time I was in America was May 2009. It was a for a  long weekend to attend a wedding and it seems like a million years ago. I've thought a lot about going home for a visit over the past year, but to be honest I felt really hesitant about it.

I was really afraid of how I would feel if that makes any sense. While it would be great to see everyone that I had missed so much I worried that I would be really sad once I came back to London. So I stayed away. I thought it would be just too sad to have to say good bye to everyone.

They say in many articles about adjusting to a new country that there are different stages that an expat goes through. Even though I decided to live in London I still went and am going through these different stages.

Stage 1 - Excitement
The individual experiences a holiday or 'honeymoon' period with their new surroundings.
. Feel very positive about the culture
. Are overwhelmed with impressions
. Find the new culture exotic and are fascinated
. Are passive, meaning they have little experience of the culture

(Oct 2007 - August 2008) Stage 1 happened when I first arrived to study in 2007 at LCC. I loved London and found everything to be amazing and I liked how different it all was. I would say that I was definitely in the honeymoon period up until I came back married and ready to really live in London. Up until that point I had been studying and having fun. I did miss home, mainly the people, but it didn't bother me too much.

Stage 2 - Withdrawal
The individual now has some more face to face experience of the culture and starts to find things different, strange and frustrating.

. Find the behaviour of the people unusual and unpredictable
. Begin to dislike the culture and react negatively to the behaviour
. Feel anxious
. Start to withdraw
. Begin to criticize, mock or show animosity to the people

(October 2008- February 2010) Stage 2  kicked in when I arrived back from the States to live here properly. This is when I started my job search and was trying to find my feet. I felt irritable and isolated and at times even hostile towards other people. I was tired of being different. I missed the comfort and familiarity of where I was from. A lot of things felt challenging and annoying. I also was really feeling very homesick at this point. This was a rotten stage to be in.

Stage 3 - Adjustment
The individual now has a routine, feels more settled and is more confident in dealing with the new culture.

. Understand and accept the behaviour of the people
. Feel less isolated
. Regains their sense of humour

(February 2010 - April 2010) Stage 3 began for me just about the time that I decided to leave my job. I finished my job on the last day of February and then immediately the next day I went on a week long skiing holiday with Matthew, his brother Thomas and our friends Ali and Becky. That was a fantastic trip and I knew when I got back that things were going to be different. I felt like I had overcome a hurdle and was moving on. It was a great feeling! 

I don't know how to really explain it, but I felt different as a person.

Stage 4 - Enthusiasm
The individual now feels 'at home'.

. Enjoy being in the culture
. Functions well in the culture
. Prefer certain cultural traits of the new culture rather than their own
. Adopt certain behaviours from the new culture

(April 2010 - present) Stage 4 I can't tell you how happy I am to be at this stage. Don't get me wrong. I of course get homesick and miss my friends and family and at times feel uncertain about things, but I feel the love and excitement I once had for London again. I feel so much more alive and happy about everything now. I love my job and where I am living, things are falling into place due to hard work and perseverance.

Of course moving through these steps wasn't as clear cut as I've made it out to be in this short post, but looking back I can definitely see myself experiencing them.

So I feel really good about going back to Minnesota for a visit and all that I've achieved since I've been in London. I never really thought it would be hard to adjust to a new country, but it does make you a stronger person. 

I can't wait to be back and see everyone that I've missed so much.


  1. I have heard this same thing from so many people. I look forward to the personal growth that all of these stages will offer me in Seoul and thank you for sharing your experience. I might have to bookmark this to remind myself on the bad days that it will get better. :D

  2. C'mon back Rhea, the water's great!

  3. I'll tell you what it definitely has made me a stronger person and it was comforting to know that what I was going through was normal.


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