It’s not all bad here

The early part of today was unpleasant, I admit. I had a very unpleasant start to the day. But I have to admit that the day ended on a very high note, and my optimism for my life here in Britain has not actually waned.

I had been asked several weeks ago to sit on a panel for a post-US election discussion. I had the opportunity to make a ten minute statement on the election, along with a distinguished international relations expert, plus answering questions from the crowd and it turned out to be great fun. Much to my relief, and somewhat dismay given that this was merely my opinion and not my area of technical expertise, the turnout was good and a lively group of people from all over the world appeared at the event. I had a great time. The forum itself was challenging and a great learning experience for me–I had the opportunity to glean significant new understanding as to the framework used by international policy experts in studying this significant field. And most important to me, given my frustrations earlier in the day, I did not burst into tears or otherwise embarrass myself.

Even better, the event resulted in my having dinner with a truly international couple–she’s from the American midwest (!) and he’s a Brit, and they have lived in both places and thus have a lot of experience with the cultural issues going both ways. I had a fantastic time and stopped to re-evaluate my feelings of “cut-and-run” that plague me whenever I find frustrations here. I hope to hang out with this couple more often–yes it follows my rule of “the most friendly Brits are those that are not truly entrenched here–living in the US and being involved with an American probably do affect perspectives–but it was a very soul-healing experience for me.

Perhaps more importantly, I have a shopping date tomorrow with another friend, a Brit, and my health-club buddy. And I ran into another friend, also a Brit, this evening at the store and made plans to catch up soon. Perhaps it is not as bad as I think in my darkest hours–I have had a reasonably slow start to making friends here, but perhaps at the same time I have really done better than I think in my dark moments. So I head to bed on a reasonably positive note. And for that I am extremely grateful!

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2 responses to “It’s not all bad here

  1. Yay! (Do they say that in England, I wonder?)

    Glad to know that I am in a bit of the world that merits an exclamation mark (can’t remember what you call those).

    I do think that homesickness can linger for a long time. And I agree with Almost American, that it is easy to blame everything on the new location, whereas in fact life is just mixes wherever you are. But it’s true too that you are more vulnerable when far from ‘home’.

    You have yourself a good week-end.

  2. Glad to hear that you were feeling better by the end of the day! Hope the weekend is turning out to be fun.

    You know, there have been books and books written about culture shock and it sounds as though that’s what you’re going through. People often assume that it’s something that only happens when you’re dealing with a really ‘foreign’ culture – but just because the language is (mostly) the same in no way diminishes the potential for culture shock when moving between the US and the UK. Sometimes it even makes it worse!

    Another mistake people often make is in thinking that you only feel culture shock when you first arrive and that you get over it. It’s more of a roller coaster than most people understand – especially those who’ve never gone through it. For some people it doesn’t hit right away and when it hits later they don’t understand that’s what it is. Often it goes away, only to come back when something in your life is not going well, or when you encounter some new difference . . . Knowing what’s happening helps a little, but still doesn’t always make it go away!

    I find it does help to have people I can talk to who’ve been through the same experience – sounds like you’ve found some.

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