El Inmigrante

Living abroad / Vivir en el extranjero

The ‘honeymoon’ stage

5 Comments

Culture shock has many faces and the talent to disguise its mean ways with the so-called ‘honeymoon’ stage. According to the general definition of culture shock, there are four stages: the excitement (or honeymoon), the withdrawal, the adjustment and the enthusiasm. Since I have already gone through the first stage but I am still going back and forth among the other stages, I would like to share my experience during my ‘honeymoon’ stage.

Once I was settled in my new English home, things were looking pretty good to me. I had already met my new co-workers at the school where I was going to work, I had learnt which bus to take to go to work and the city, I had found out how to use a dishwasher (which I had only seen in movies), and I had observed how I should wash my clothes in a laundry machine –  don’t get me wrong, laundry machines exist in Peru for a long time, but my mother had refused to buy one until recent years…did she wait for her kids to leave home?.

During the first months in England, I was in a state of euphoria and ecstasy. Everything looked marvelous, yes! marvelous!. There was no single negative thought in my mind. Every person and situation that I came across would take me to an exceeding state of mind.

I remember one Sunday afternoon that I was upstairs, organizing my new room, when I heard my landlord’s daughter and her friends playing a Juanes‘ song on their computer. I ran down the stairs as fast as I could and asked them with surprise: ‘How do you know this song?!’. They told me that it was all over the radio and they really liked it. I was touched by the fact that those 12-year-old kids were listening to Latin music, my music. It was a bonding moment between two cultures. They wanted to know the meaning of the song and how to dance to it. Later that day, they made sure I also learnt something, like what ‘chav‘ means and how to use the word ‘wicked’ for almost every sentence. We were a big happy family.

The months that followed my arrival to England, I started to discover a lot of things, all at the same time. My awakening to the ‘old’ continent included sounds, face expressions, rain (a lot of rain!), food, smells, etc. Some of the things I learnt at the very beginning of my stay was that I shouldn’t scream every time I was in a car and saw another one coming on the wrong side of the road (In the UK, people drive on the wrong…I mean…on the left side of the road). I also had to get used to the idea that I couldn’t jump to people’s faces to give them a kiss on the cheek every time I greeted them, as we usually do in Latin America. That was tough, I had all the predisposition to do so but a gentle handshake would always bring me back to reality.

My favorite part of the ‘honeymoon’ stage was traveling. My stay in England was supposed to be a short one (8 months), therefore, I took advantage of all the free time I had to travel around. In the first three months in the UK, I had the luck to visit Oxford, Scotland and London.

Edinburgh

Edinburgh

Big Ben

My first impression of the Big Ben

My first hostel..ever! - Oxford

My first hostel..ever! – Oxford

The first impression I had of these places is magical; my memory has preserved every moment in a very special place, in that innocent stage of my life. And this is what the ‘honeymoon’ does to you, it makes you see things through a kaleidoscope, full of colorful patterns, with beauty.

WARNING: the first months or years you spent abroad are always the best; our blurry memory can trick us and make us believe that everything back then was perfect.

Nevertheless, the ‘honeymoon’ stage gives us courage; the desire of discovering a new country makes us curious and hungrier for more. It is the best stage of culture shock (at least something good had to come out of it!) because getting lost on our way home creates the opportunity to know your new neighbourhood, meeting new people can lead us to find a good/best friend, trying new food can make our mouths explode with flavors we didn’t even know they existed and seeing things for the first time can make us wonder: ‘Where the hell have I been all this time?!’.

Enjoy your ‘honeymoon’ stage to the fullest and if you already did, guard those precious moments forever!

Author: El Inmigrante

Born in Peru. Dreamt of the old continent. Currently living in Amsterdam. Do dreams come true? Nací en Perú. Soñé con el viejo continente. Ahora vivo en Ámsterdam. ¿Se vuelven realidad los sueños?

5 thoughts on “The ‘honeymoon’ stage

  1. Beautiful post. I’ve never really thought of it this way, but the first experiences I had in Honduras were some of the most magical I have ever had. I remember learning to wash clothes by hand—I actually thought that it was FUN! Many times I even had access to a washing machine, but decided to do it by hand anyway. It was a novelty to me. It was new. Exciting. Fresh. Looking back it seems that I was probably in the honeymoon stage!

    • This is exciting, my first comment ever!! Thank you so much for commenting. It looks like we exchanged worlds, you came to my house and I went to yours😉. Two different experiences but yet the same feeling.

      • I think that’s so interesting, imagining that are experiences are so different and yet in some ways very similar or evoking the same feelings and emotions. It kind of makes it seem like it is a small world after all.

  2. Pingback: La ‘luna de miel’ | El Inmigrante

  3. Pingback: The ‘making of’ friends | El Inmigrante

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