Friday, May 13, 2011

Culture Shock: One-Year Anniversary!

We’re coming up on our one-year anniversary in Cuenca, so we celebrated today at Piedra de Agua (thermal springs) in Baños. I cashed in my Mother’s Day coupon, we grabbed the #11 bus, and off we went.

The weather was almost perfect (cloudy with a chance of sprinkles). Believe it or not, I love cloudy days in Cuenca because it makes the colors so much more vibrant and the warm thermal springs that much hotter! While we were soaking in the three different pools, we took some time to reflect on all we have been through this past year in Ecuador.

Most of us don’t talk that much about “culture shock,” but it’s a very real thing! Even if you’re progressing quite nicely in the language, you love your condo down by the river, and you enjoy basking in the sunshine on your morning walks, you have to realize that moving to another country is a big deal. Although compared to our life in the States—where we literally ran a three-ring circus—this is truly paradise. But still there are some major-life changing events that have taken place.

In the book, Culture Shock, the author Myron Loss talks about some of the life-changing events that happen when you begin life in a new culture. A score of 300 or more (life-changing points) makes you more susceptible to disease, accidents, and surgery. And it’s even more drastic when you’re coming right from the workforce to life in paradise. It’s literally a shock to the system!

Here are some of the possible life-changing points you might experience as you transition into another culture:

*Change in financial state (38)
*Change to different line of work (36)
*Change in living conditions (25)
*Revision of personal habits (24)
*Change in work hours or conditions (20)
*Change in residence (20)
*Change in recreation (19)
*Change in church activities (18)
*Change in social activities (18)
*Change in number of family get-togethers (15)
*Change in eating habits (15)
*Change in language (50)

TOTAL 299 points

Additional points: marriage (50); gain of a new family member (39); personal injury or illness (53); change in health (44); spouse begins or stops work (26).

I purposely left out the additional points you get for selling a house, moving, and shipping a container because I didn’t want to stress you out too much!

But I have to say that after you reach the one-year mark, you have passed over a major hurdle. To be honest with you, some couples don’t make it that far (one or both of them can’t adjust).

What I’m getting at is paradise has its benefits and it also has some stress points during the first year. You can minimize some of the points by being aware that they exist. I won’t tell you how many points Mark and I have racked up, but let’s just say we were way over the 299 points (I mean way over!). Even so, Mark and I have managed to lose weight and lower our blood pressure. Mark was taking ten different medications when he first arrived and now is only on one! Our doctor told us that it’s not unusual; in fact, he sees it all the time.

Life in paradise has significant health benefits that far outweigh any life-changing points that you may experience during your transition. You can also minimize some points by being careful how much you take on during your first year here. Remember: you don’t have to say “yes” to every dinner invitation; you don’t have to attend every social function; you don’t have to go to language school every day for eight hours; and you don’t have to feel guilty for leaving your family or kids behind.

Life in paradise is what you make it and you get to decide how you’re going to live it! Please be kind to yourself while you’re packing up, moving, and transitioning. The honeymoon period can truly last a lifetime if you take baby steps, listen to your heart, and don’t take on too much at one time.

We hope we can celebrate your one-year anniversary someday!

Until next time…hasta luego!

*Courtesy of: Loss, Myron, Culture Shock, Light and Life Press, pg. 77.



Mick and Kathy Wesson said...

Great blog entry Connie.....Congrats on the one year anniversary...

Connie Pombo said...

Thanks, Kathy! I know you guys will be celebrating your one-year anniversary as well; is it August?!? Wow, time goes by so fast here. Hugs to you three!!! ~Connie, Mark and Mocha

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