What to do when culture shock strikes

You would mistakenly think that culture shock is something that hits you in the first week of your stay at a new place. In fact, culture shock is a sneaky little devil that creeps up on you just as you start to relax. I have been in the first, and the best stage, Honeymoon stage, for quite a while. I liked everything; happily enjoyed all that Nepal had to offer. Then I slowly started easing into the Withdrawal stage. You see, in that particular stage you start finding things around you different, strange and frustrating. I went through a whole bunch of bad days (not to be negative and say weeks and months), and I thought I was finally over it. I thought I was surely making my way to the Adjustment stage which would offer me some relief from the frustration I was feeling.  Then my two trips to Croatia happened. They were lovely. No wait, that’s wrong. They were amazing! And also, they made me focus on the bad sides of Nepal again upon my return. And then back I am in the Withdrawal stage. Boy, it sucks.

I got good days; don’t get me wrong. I also got excellent days. I got days when I am in love with Nepal, Kathmandu, my family, my job,  my life. Then there are the bad days. There are days I don’t sleep because of heat, or dogs, or mosquitos, or all three combined. There are days I don’t understand why people drive like maniacs; why plumbers/carpenters/painters don’t actually know how to do their jobs; why sun is so strong that it’s killing my freshly planted tomatoes; why ground is uneven and I keep tripping. The last two are totally logical, right? Yup, such is the culture shock. And there’s nothing I can do to fight it. Only time promotes you to the next stage. I feel like I am half way there. Just the last small push and I will be Adjusted. After that, only the straight road ahead: onto the Enthusiasm stage where, apparently, only milk and honey flow.

This is, in fact, an outside wall of the bathroom, that needed no remodeling. Now it does. Joy.

This is, in fact, an outside wall of the bathroom, that needed no remodeling. Now it does. Joy.

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12 thoughts on “What to do when culture shock strikes

  1. I love this post! I guess that everyone’s experiences and culture shock is different! This is something that keeps playing in my head every day I am here. I am constantly questioning whether I am still in culture shock. how long it will last and many other things.
    It can be very overwhelming so thank you for sharing the post.
    It is nice that you are settled in Nepal and I am amazed by the normality of your life. I still haven;t left the house yet by myself and have no idea about the money situation! I suppose these things take time but I am wondering why I do not feel at home yet in Nepal.
    God bless 🙂 x

    • It took me about 2 months to leave the house on my own! So take your time. Nepal is a difficult place for a foreign girl to gain her independence. It just takes time to figure out how things function and to get comfortable with them.

  2. Aww… I understand what you mean when saying that culture shock is something which can happen suddenly any time… Oh, I have stories to share which I hope to do in my blog soon!
    Well, your rethorical question why the people don’t know how to do their job… is because noone taught them properly. That’s why we pay them so little too. The work we had done in our home is ok so far, but the cupboard which was made for me with stone shelves… well, I shall keep the photos as a treat.

    • Culture shock is hard, isn’t it? And it never really goes away… As far as workmanship goes, i often wonder whether i should just find tutorials on youtube and do things myself. If only there was Home Depot around here…

      • It is hard, and as one of your commenters said below we cannot change it, but just accept things as they are. People are used to live like this, so we have to just bear with that… Well, Youtube would be a great way of learning new things for ourselves anyway:)all those DIY and so on 🙂

      • YouTube is seriously awesome in that regard! The only thing missing here is a DIY supplies shop. Getting the supplies here is a such a pain!

  3. These are all normal feelings, Mrs Z. You go through so many emotions when adjusting to life in Nepal (and I was only there for a very short time compared to your situation of permanently living there). When you start to compare two lives- your home life in Croatia and your current life in Nepal- you are bound to start feeling sadness because you miss home. Basic things like the things you mentioned are never easy in Nepal so it certainly gets frustrating. Look after yourself, try and find little treats that pick you up every day and give you a reason to smile.

    • Thanks for your lovely comment! That’s exactly what’s needed in moments of frustration or sadness – little treats to make your day, and i will make sure i have some on hand at all times 🙂

  4. Hi. Something that might (might!) help with culture shock is the realization that things are what they are and (like you already realize) you can’t do anything about most things. Some things you will never get used to and actually shouldn’t get used to. However, when you are frustrated, you can say to yourself, “T.I.N.” “This is Nepal.” Have you seen the movie Blood Diamond? There’s a place in the movie where the girl reporter is complaining to Leonardo DiCaprio about something and he shrugs and says, “T.I.A.” “This is Africa.” It is what it is and that’s it! When the electricity goes off while I’m talking to my mom on Skype, and I get back to her when the electricity comes back on and she asks what happened, I say, “T.I.N.” and she knows!
    It also helps to have your home be your place of refuge and your “Little Croatia.” If you live with family, you can make your room your refuge. Our home is not Nepali at all so we can be at “home” when we’re at home, if you know what I mean.
    OK, bye for now and “T.I.N.” 🙂
    P.S. By the way, congrats for driving here! I haven’t gotten up the nerve yet and I don’t think I ever will (unless it’s to save someone’s life and I’m the only available person!)!

    • Thank so much for this reply. All you wrote makes so much sense and I love your idea with TIN! That is so cool! I need to try something like that in my moments of frustration.

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