It’s November 1st! Time to get your NaBloPoMo on! Oh, the excitement.
For some, November is that time of the year when they finally get the motivation to write their big novel, or even commit to simply write more.
I, personally have always wondered about this obsession with writing more. Does an increased quantity of words bring anything to your style, your posts or your audience? Perhaps I was just too lazy to accept the challenge and was just finding excuses. After all, as an athlete, I should know that practice makes perfect and even if perhaps reaching a quota of words per day or month will not automatically transform you in a better writer, there is no way it can hurt you.
I did experiment with writing everyday for a while last year and it worked fine as long as I felt inspired. I quit when it got though, when I actually had to find a subject to write on and not just pour my soul out. I also experienced a negativity and self-doubt when asking myself why n earth would anyone want to hear my opinion on everything.
But here I am, November 1st, ready to accept this challenge once more, as I again came back to my conviction that Writing is more for yourself than a desired audience. I have also not written in a long time, and perhaps the transformation that I’m inevitably going through needs to have a documented proof. And I miss writing. There, I admitted it.
So, short update on where I am now. 6565.42 miles or 10565.74 km away from home. Foreign continent. North America. Foreign city. Los Angeles. Alone. Or actually, this is a more accurate description of how my journey started exactly 3 months ago. I know it’s early, but I feel I could easily call this home and I’m pretty sure there was not a single day in which I felt alone after arriving to UCLA.
There is obviously a ridiculous amount of things I could write too, but since I like to keep things structured and I have to write for an entire month, I’ll refrain from trying to cover everything and today I’ll write about I’ve been asked most these days and probably by everyone learning where I come from.
“Do you experience culture shock?”
I’m sure many of those I meet here have perhaps no idea of the country I come from, unless they have heard of stereotypes, which would be even worse. Obviously, this incites to assuming it must be a terribly different place and I must feel uncomfortable in the new society, right? I for one, don’t necessarily view culture shock in a negative manner, in addition to the fact that I don’t feel I’m experiencing it.
Of course, I do notice cultural differences. It would truly be a problem if I didn’t, since there are no two identical places in this world and especially between two places that are so far away in some many respects, differences ought to be there. What I mean is that I am not negatively affected by them.
I simply notice a different mannerism and I adjust, not making my home customs the norm to which everything that is new would go against.
Perhaps, this is what people call “keeping an open mind”.
Let me offer an example. Perhaps it’s a trivial one, but don’t little things make the biggest difference in day-to-day lives?
In the US, or at least as far as I have noticed and heard from other “culturally shocked” foreigners that wandered around this country, people tend to forget or choose not to answer to a “Thank you”, with the formal “You’re welcome” and simply mutter an “Aha.” This would not only be rude in several other languages and at least insofar as I know, in European countries, but perhaps even taken as an offense. That low voiced, barely there “aha”, would show that you’re unappreciative of the service you’re being thanked for, discontent and ready to walk away and cut any interaction.
So, should I now get mad or offended by every American that doesn’t formally reply to my thanking him? Not only would that be pointless, I’d probably be the one appearing weird and irrational. I simply acknowledged the habit and even tested it out myself to see the reactions. It did feel strange for me, but that does not make me feel at unease or impediment me understanding the communication.
I could extrapolate this perhaps to many other customs and habits, but to me it’s of no value and purpose to point out all these differences. After all, you are either able to accept them or you go home. It would be extremely boring if people and customs were unitary and identical all over the world. Plus, isn’t this diversity and discovery of new ways of doing the same things the reason and fascination for travel?
Moreover, when answering this question I must always remind people that I am currently living on a campus, with fellow students who are my age, some of which are internationals and definitely most of whom are more open-minded and generally more cultured than your average citizen. This is probably a huge advantage to not feeling thrown into a completely different world, but being in this bubble also doesn’t allow you to experience “life” in its entire magnitude and with all its dimensions in a foreign city. Technically, I’m not even living in a city here.
Lastly, I have travelled across many countries (29 and counting) and have been accustomed to different languages and habits, so perhaps I’m generally more inclined to embrace rather than be taken aback by differences.
All in all, I can say that despite small, and to me insignificant, differences in mannerism, I do not feel “culturally shocked” and perhaps even enjoy noticing some of these changes that make my “culture” as well as the one I experience here, UNIQUE.
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