Bird on a Bare Branch

Attempting to fling a frail song in my little corner of the world

Apparently Jen Experiences Culture Shock January 13, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jen @ 7:21 pm

Last weekend, after I moved out of my host family’s place and into the flat where I’m staying with a couple expat colleagues, I hibernated for awhile.  I couldn’t deal with Mozambique.  Here is part of an email I wrote to a friend in the States last Saturday:    

“Everyday is so up and down.  I’m constantly frustrated with daily life here.  I don’t sleep well because it’s hot, and the sun comes up so early.  I also feel so unsettled with constantly staying with people.  I’m SO ready to be in my own place, but finding an apartment is such a process.  And nothing here works well.  I don’t believe anything any Mozambican tells me because it’s never right.  I’m always given a run around.  I went to immigration three times to pick up my passport.  The last time when it was “definitely” supposed to be ready, I waited for two hours.  Everything is like this.  And I feel like I’m 5 years old because everyone has to take care of me, and I never seem to be able to do anything right.  When I think I can do something independently, inevitably I have to call someone for help.  I mean, people are wonderful about helping me, but it’s frustrating to me.  Portuguese is coming along fine, but of course I’m not fluent yet, so that is frustrating.  There are constant misunderstandings.  The city itself is frustrating too.  It’s so ugly and dirty, and I hate that I’m always vigilant of thieves and have to make sure I’m home before dark.  I’m getting more and more tired and more and more stressed out.  I just want to yell at people when I’m given a run around, but it’s not okay to express anger in this culture apparently.  I’m tired.  I’m stressed out.  I’m worn down.  And I’ve only been here a month.” 

I was feeling weak, feeling like I couldn’t handle life here, which surprised me because I’ve done cross-cultural transitions my entire life.  All my expat friends here make life look so easy, and I was/am really struggling.  Here was my friend’s response, which was a huge encouragement to me:

“It kind of sounds like you’re having more culture shock than you expected. Zach says that you are describing his first month in Brazil exactly as he experienced it. He got robbed twice, jumped once, was frustrated, taken advantage of, didn’t know the language completely, the house servants stole his things, he disliked Brazilians, etc. etc. But of course, now we want to go live there again because he came to love everything about Brazil.”

Several things in addition to this letter have been a huge encouragement to me this week, especially some conversations I’ve had and biblical messages I’ve heard or read this week since my first notary office experience.  I’ll try to share some of them in the next days.


One Response to “Apparently Jen Experiences Culture Shock”

  1. Margaret Says:

    Hang in there, Jen. Since you have always been so independent, it is hard, I know, to feel so out of control. We’re anxious to read your next blogs, where you will share some of the biblical texts that have helped you. We’ll also pray that the second month will be better. God bless! Gram

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